Theme Leader :
Harumi Hotta, Ph.D.
Vice-Chief Researcher :
Sae Uchida, Ph.D.
Nobuhiro Watanabe, Ph.D.
Adjunct Researcher :
autonomic nervous system, hormone, somatosensory stimulation, aging, basal forebrain cholinergic system, acetylcholine, blood flow, nerve growth factor,
We perform research activity using electrophysiological and imaging techniques mainly on anesthetized animals (and humans in some cases).
Our goal is to characterize autonomic function in the elderly, and to identify strategies to regulate autonomic nervous system activity. We have studied neural mechanisms for somatosensory stimulation to influence autonomic functions. Recently we showed: (1) a method of subtle skin stimulation that suppresses micturition reflex via activating the endogenous opioid system, may be applicable to improve incontinence; (2) a novel role of ovarian sympathetic nerve is ovarian estradiol secretion regulation and the nerve activity is facilitated by noxious skin stimulation, causing estradiol secretion decrease.
Cognitive decline in patients with dementia and the elderly is related to the dysfunction of cholinergic basal forebrain neurons. Another goal is to define the roles of cholinergic system in the regulation of cortical arteries and nerve growth factor (NGF) secretion. We showed: (1) tactile stimulation activates the cholinergic system, thereby facilitates cerebral blood flow and NGF secretion; (2) chronic nicotine infusion enhances responses of cortical ACh release and vasodilation during basal forebrain stimulation in adult, but not aged, rats, suggesting that a reduction of nicotinic receptors may relate to dysfunction of the cholinergic system during aging.