Arnaud Lacoste, Ph.D.
PNI Research Fellow

Brief Biography
B.Sc. in Biology, University of Bordeaux, France (1995)
M.Sc. in Life Sciences, University of Paris, France (1996)

Ph.D. in Biology, University of Paris, France (2001). Topic: Catecholaminergic regulation of innate immunity in invertebrates

Post-doctoral training in Neurogenetics, University of California San Francisco, U.S.A (2001-02). Topic: Developmental processes and genetic pathways controling catecholaminergic neuron differentiation in vertebrates

PNI Research fellow (2003-present)

Brief Description of Research Project
Topic: Developing models to study the developmental and genetic basis of the psychoneuroimmune network.

Mentors: Dr. Christopher Evans and Dr. Edwin Cooper.

Early events occurring in fetal life strongly modulate an individual’s predisposition to a number of pathological states in adult life. This is particularly true of the psychoneuroimmune network because communication between adult immune, nervous and neuroimmune systems largely depends on set points established during development. In other words, neuroimmune interaction during development determines how the immune and nervous systems will communicate in the adult. If the two systems fail to establish a common language during prenatal and neonatal life, an individual may show higher predisposition to autoimmunity, neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. multiple schlerosis, ALS and possibly Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases) and behavioral disorders (e.g. depression).

Thus, it is important to understand how the development of the immune system is linked to that of the brain and vice-versa.

Because studies on the development of the neuroimmune system are extremely difficult in human, the aim of my project is to develop animal models and technologies which will facilitate research in this field. I am using emerging models for developmental biology and genetics and novel tools in genomics, bioinformatics and cell imaging to help identify developmental and genetic bases of the neuroimmune crosstalk.

For example, using zebrafish, a new model for developmental biology and genetics, I showed that early macrophages help determine which neurons should live or die during brain development. Disrupting specific molecular pathways controling this early neuroimmune process, even during limited developmental time-windows, causes long-term alterations in various brain structures and potential cognitive, sensory and behavioral defects in the adult.