Research groups
Research Group for Mood Disorders
Balázs Gaszner (associate professor) E-mail:
Tel.: +36 (72) 536-000 (ext: 35514)
Research interest

The most common reason for chronic disability is major depression. The currently available pharmacotherapautical approach targets the central monoaminergic systems. Unfortunately, one third of patients do not respond properly to the pharmacotherapy. Despite decades of stress research we do not have equivocally accepted reliable animal models for depression to solve these intriguing challenges.

The Research group for mood disorders performs behavioral and functional morphological experiments to develop reliable models for major depression in mice and rats.

Members of the group (Dr. L. Kovács, Dr. T. Gaszner, Dr. J. Farkas, B. Ujvári) test how the three hit concept for major depression is applicable in rodents. Genetically modified mice carry an inherited risk factor causing depression-like phenotpye. The genetically predisposed animals are exposed to early life stress (i.e. maternal deprivation) and additional chronic stress in adulthood. The (mal)adaptive changes in behavior, physical and endocrinological factor as well as functional morphological changes in the brain including the corticotropin-releasing factor, urocortin1, serotonin dopamine containing centers are evaluated.

The group (Dr. L. Kovács, Dr. T. Gaszner, Dr. J. Farkas, B. Ujvári) also tests the validity of the match-mismatch hypothesis in rats and attempts to combine this with the three hit concept of depression. Offspring form low, middle and high stress responsive Wistar rats are exposed to maternal deprivation and chronic stress versus controls.

The group (N. Füredi, Á. Nagy, Dr. L. Kovács) also performs experiments to clear the neurobiological background of Parkinson’s disease-associated depression and anxiety. Post mortem human brain and cerebrospinal fluid samples are studied by biochemical and functional morphological tools. Toxic models for Parkinson’s disease are tested in rat models using the same approaches including behavioral tests also including the energetics of stress response. The main focus here is to study the significance of the urocortinergic centrally projecting Edinger-Wespthal nucleus in Parkinson’s disease.

Clinical relevance

Basic research is the main focus. However, results may be of great translational value, since a reliable and valid animal model would help to understand how therapy resistance develops in mood disorders. A new model would also help to test the efficacy of candidate antidepressant drugs. Since the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease like depression and anxiety precedes the occurrence of motor symptoms and they deteriorate the quality of life in a greater extent than motor symptoms per se, our results might help the early diagnosis of the disease and to increase the quality-of-life in this very common condition.

Foot fault test
Forced Swim Test
In situ hybridization
Confocal microscopy, morphometry
Light-dark box test
Marble burying test
Open field animal test
RNAscope in situ hybridization
Rotarod performance test
Sucrose preference test
Tail suspension test
Representative publications
Construct and face validity of a new model for the three-hit theory of depression using PACAP mutant mice on CD1 background. Farkas J., Kovacs L.A., Gaspar L., Nafz A., Gaszner T., Ujvari, B., Kormos V., Csernus V., Hashimoto H., Reglodi D., Gaszner B.
Neuroscience (2017/354: 11-29.)
DOI | PubMed | Scopus
Melanocortin 4 receptor ligands modulate energy homeostasis through urocortin 1 neurons of the centrally projecting Edinger-Westphal nucleus. Furedi N., Nagy A., Miko A., Berta G., Kozicz T., Petervari E., Balasko M., Gaszner B.
Neuropharmacology (2017/118: 26-37.)
DOI | PubMed | Scopus
Reduced response to chronic mild stress in PACAP mutant mice is associated with blunted FosB expression in limbic forebrain and brainstem centers. Kormos V., Gaspar L., Kovacs L.A., Farkas J., Gaszner T., Csernus V., Balogh, A., Hashimoto H., Reglodi D., Helyes Z., Gaszner B.
Neuroscience (2016/330: 335-358.)
DOI | PubMed | Scopus
Role of neuropeptides in anxiety, stress, and depression: From animals to humans. Kormos V., Gaszner B.
Neuropeptides (2013/47(6): 401-419.)
DOI | PubMed | Scopus
The behavioral phenotype of pituitary adenylate-cyclase activating polypeptide-deficient mice in anxiety and depression tests is accompanied by blunted c-Fos expression in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, central projecting Edinger–Westphal nucleus, ventral lateral septum, and dorsal raphe nucleus. Gaszner B., Kormos V., Kozicz T., Hashimoto H., Reglodi D., Helyes Z.
Neuroscience (2012/202: 283-299.)
DOI | PubMed | Scopus
Corticotropin-Releasing Factor-Producing Cells in the Paraventricular Nucleus of the Hypothalamus and Extended Amygdala Show Age-Dependent FOS and FOSB/DeltaFOSB Immunoreactivity in Acute and Chronic Stress Models in the Rat Kovács LÁ, Berta G, Csernus V, Ujvári B, Füredi N, Gaszner B.
Front. Aging Neurosci. (2019 Oct 9;11:274)
DOI | PubMed
Both Basal and Acute Restraint Stress-Induced c-Fos Expression Is Influenced by Age in the Extended Amygdala and Brainstem Stress Centers in Male Rats Kovács LÁ, Schiessl JA, Nafz AE, Csernus V, Gaszner B.
Front. Aging Neurosci. (2018 Aug 22;10:248)
DOI | PubMed