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Understanding neuron-endocrine crosstalk as a key mechanism underlying stress-related psychiatric disorders

Minae Niwa (photo)

Minae Niwa

Research Site Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine
Assistant Professor


Parturition-induced changes in endocrine mediators such as steroids and peptides have long-lasting effects on neuronal functions, and can contribute to the development of psychiatric conditions in susceptible individuals. Using a novel mouse model, the underlying biological mechanisms will be characterized by focusing on the dynamic changes in neuro-endocrine crosstalk during adolescence, pregnancy and postpartum period. This project has the potential to provide novel pathophysiological insight into stress-related psychiatric disorders, in particular postpartum depression, and aid the efforts to develop novel prophylactic, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies for these disorders.


  1. Matsumoto Y, Niwa M (co-corresponding author), Mouri A, Noda Y, Fukushima T, Ozaki N, Nabeshima T. Adolescent stress leads to glutamatergic disturbance through dopaminergic abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex of genetically vulnerable mice. Psychopharmacology. In press.
  2. Niwa M, Cash-Padgett T, Kubo KI, Saito A, Ishii K, Sumitomo A, Taniguchi Y, Ishizuka K, Jaaro-Peled H, Tomoda T, Nakajima K, Sawa A, Kamiya A. DISC1 a key molecular lead in psychiatry and neurodevelopment: No-More Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia 1. Mol Psychiatry. 2016;21(11):1488-9. doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.154. PubMed PMID: 27595595.
  3. Mouri A, Noda Y, Niwa M, Matsumoto Y, Mamiya T, Nitta A, Yamada K, Furukawa S, Iwamura T, Nabeshima T. The involvement of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-induced place preference and behavioral sensitization. Behav Brain Res. 2017;329:157-65. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.04.052. PubMed PMID: 28472632.
  4. Niwa M, Lee RS, Tanaka T, Okada K, Kano S, Sawa A. A critical period of vulnerability to adolescent stress: epigenetic mediators in mesocortical dopaminergic neurons. Hum Mol Genet. 2016;25(7):1370-81. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddw019. PubMed PMID: 26908623; PMCID: PMC4787906.
  5. Ueda S, Niwa M, Hioki H, Sohn J, Kaneko T, Sawa A, Sakurai T. Sequence of Molecular Events during the Maturation of the Developing Mouse Prefrontal Cortex. Mol Neuropsychiatry. 2015;1(2):94-104. doi: 10.1159/000430095. PubMed PMID: 26457295; PMCID: PMC4596535.