Adolescence is a developmental phase characterized by numerous behavioral and neurobiological changes. During this stage, the beginning and escalation of alcohol consumption and other psychoactive substances, as well as the manifestation of psychiatric disorders that may have been caused by neurobiological alterations in other periods of development (eg anxiety disorders , social disorders) are very common. The prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence disorders is higher in late adolescence and early adulthood than at any other stage of development. Our research is directed to the study of the mechanisms underlying these phenomena. A priority objective is to try to discriminate between those adolescents who will progress towards problematic alcohol consumption from those who, even exhibiting similar initial levels of drug use, will maintain controlled consumption. Among other strategies, we analyze vulnerability factors (stress, early onset of alcohol consumption, etc.) and endophenotypes (biological or behavioral mediators between genetic risk and expression of disorders) that facilitate these trajectories and the development of associated disorders. Knowledge of these psychobiological mechanisms is then used for the design of pharmacological or environmental interventions.

Another of the main objectives of our group is to study the neurobiological and behavioral consequences that cause serotonergic disruption during sensitive periods of development, when the system is still in formation. Serotonin (5-HT), as a monoamine modulator of the central nervous system, is involved in the development of numerous psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders, developmental disorders and addictive substance abuse disorders, including alcohol. Disruptions of the 5-HT system during sensitive periods of development -such as pregnancy, childhood and adolescence- lead to alterations associated with anxiety disorders and alcohol abuse in late adolescence and adulthood. Our group is dedicated to the description and analysis of mechanisms associated with these phenomena, to find biomarkers of these disorders and possible pharmacological and / or environmental interventions

Doctoral Fellow CONICET

Agustín Salguero

Undergraduate Students

Rodrigo García Virgolini

Federico Teitelbaum

Research Articles:

  1. Suárez AB, Fabio MC, Bellia F, Fernandez MS, Pautassi RM (2020) Environmental enrichment during adolescence heightens ethanol intake in female, but not male, adolescent rats that are selectively bred for high and low ethanol intake during adolescence. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 10.1080/00952990.2020.1770778
  1. Salguero A, Suárez AB, Luque M, Ruiz Leyva L, Cendán CM, Morón I, Pautassi RM, (2020) Binge-like, naloxone-sensitive, voluntary ethanol intake at adolescence is greater than at adulthood, but does not exacerbate subsequent two-bottle choice drinking. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 14, 50 doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2020.00050 eCollection 2020.
  1. Wille-Bille A., Bellia F., Jimenez A, Miranda-Morales S., D’Addario C., Pautassi R.M. (2020) Early exposure to environmental enrichment modulates the effects of prenatal ethanol exposure upon opioid gene expression and adolescent ethanol intake, Neuropharmacology 165, 107917. DOI 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.107917
  1. Fernandez MS, Bellia F., Ferreyra A, Chiner F., Jimenez A, D’Addario C, Pautassi R.M. (2020). Short-term selection for high and low ethanol intake during adolescence exerts lingering effects in stress-induced ethanol drinking and yields an anxiety-prone phenotype. Behav. Brain Research 380, 112445. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112445
  1. Ruiz, P., Pilatti, Pautassi R.M. (2020). Consequences of alcohol use, and its association with psychological distress, sensitivity to emotional contagion and age of onset of alcohol use, in uruguayan youth with or without college degree. Alcohol 82, 91-101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.alcohol.2019.09.001
  1. M Pucci, MV Micioni Di Bonaventura, A Wille-Billie, MS Fernández, M Maccarrone, RM Pautassi, C Cifani, C D’Addario (2019). Environmental stressors and alcoholism development: focus on molecular targets and their epigenetic regulation. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 106: 165-181. doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.07.004
  1. Fernández, M; De Olmos, S.; Nizhnikov M.E.; Pautassi RM (2019). Restraint stress exacerbates cell degeneration induced by acute binge ethanol in the adolescent, but not in the adult or middle-aged, brain. Behav. Brain Research. 364, pp. 317-327 doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2019.02.035.
  1. Fernandez MS, Ferreyra A, De Olmos S, Pautassi R.M. (2019). The offspring of rats selected for high or low ethanol intake at adolescence exhibit differential ethanol-induced Fos immunoreactivity in the central amygdala and in nucleus accumbens core. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 176: 6-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2018.11.004