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Mikhail Pletnikov, MD, PhD

Department Affiliations Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Rank Professor: Director, Laboratory of Behavioral Neurobiology and Neuroimmunology Director, Brain Science Institute Behavioral Core
Office Phone 410-502-3760
Lab Phone 410-502-4259
Fax 410-614-0013
SOM Address 9-111 CMSC

Pletnikov Lab Page

President: The International Behavioral Neuroscience Society


Geetha Kannan 2008-2014

Research Interests

My laboratory is interested in the neurobiology of neurodevelopmental diseases such as schizophrenia and autism. The major focus of the laboratory is to evaluate how adverse environmental factors and vulnerable genes interact to affect brain and behavior development. We address these experimental questions by using methods of cell and molecular biology, neuroimmunology, neurochemistry, psychopharmacology and developmental psychobiology. The current projects in our laboratory are:
Cell and mouse models of inducible expression of disrupted-in-schizophrenia-1 (DISC1)
We have been developing and characterizing cell and animal models of inducible expression of a mutant human gene, disrupted-in-schizophrenia-1, which is disrupted due to a chromosomal translocation in a large Scottish pedigree which segregates with major mental illnesses. The in vitro part of the project is focused on evaluation of the molecular and cellular effects mutant human DISC1 using stable clones of neuron-like PC12 cells and primary neurons with inducible expression of the mutant and wild-type DISC1 proteins. The in vivo part of the research project aims at characterizing the neurobehavioral effects of mutant hDISC1 in transgenic mice across the entire life span. By regulating when during development and where in the brain mutant hDISC1 is expressed, we seek to identify the critical periods and brain regions important for the effects of mutant hDISC1 to take place.
Gene-environment interplay in the pathogenesis of psychiatric conditions.
Utilizing our transgenic DISC1 cell and mouse models, we are studying the pathways whereby adverse environmental factors such viral infection, stress, or malnutrition interact with the genetic mutations at molecular, cellular, and system levels. The ultimate goal of this research program is to identify molecular pathways that mediate specific gene-environment interactions that could serve potential targets for novel therapeutic interventions.
The neuroimmune interactions in abnormal neurodevelopment.
Dysregulation in neuroimmune mechanisms is believed to be crucial to the interplay between genes and environment in mental illnesses. We use several approaches to elucidate the mechanisms of contribution of neuroinflammation to abnormal brain functioning. Using a neonatal Borna disease virus infection model, we are trying to understand how interactions between neurons, astrocytes and microglia shape neuro-inflammatory response in the brain, leading to neuronal dysfunction, damage or death with associated behavioral deficits.


Research Profile

  • Pletnikov MV, Moran TH, Carbone KM. Related Articles, Links Borna disease virus infection of the neonatal rat: developmental brain injury model of autism spectrum disorders.Front Biosci. 2002 Mar 1;7:d593-607. Review
  • Ovanesov MV, Sauder C, Rubin SA, Richt J, Nath A, Carbone KM, Pletnikov MV.Activation of microglia by borna disease virus infection: in vitro study. J Virol. 2006 Dec;80(24):12141-8.
  • Ross CA, Margolis RL, Reading SA, Pletnikov M, Coyle JT. Neurobiology of schizophrenia. Neuron. 2006 Oct 5;52(1):139-53.
  • Pletnikov MV, Xu Y, Ovanesov MV, Kamiya A, Sawa A, Ross CA. PC12 cell model of inducible expression of mutant DISC1: new evidence for a dominant-negative mechanism of abnormal neuronal differentiation. Neurosci Res. 2007 Jul;58(3):234-44.
  • Pletnikov MV, Ayhan Y, Nikolskaia O, Xu Y, Ovanesov MV, Huang H, Mori S, Moran TH, Ross CA. Inducible expression of mutant human DISC1 in mice is associated with brain and behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of schizophrenia. Mol Psychiatry. 2007 Sep 11; [Epub ahead of print].