Lipton Lab


Lab Personnel


MDMA ('Ecstasy’) and brain development

Dr. Lipton’s laboratory has a long standing interest in the gestational exposure to drugs of abuse and how such exposures affect fetal neurodevelopment.  Dr. Lipton’s research into MDMA exposure during fetal development has demonstrated increased sprouting of dopamine neurons in the mesocortical, mesolimbic and nigrostriatal systems, of rats exposed to MDMA prenatally.  There are pronounced changes in the density of neurites from noradrenergic neurons in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus as well. This neurite sprouting phenomenon has also been reproduced in vitro in the laboratory utilizing primary dopamine neuron cell cultures. Additionally, such prenatal exposures result in lasting behavioral changes including enhanced exploratory behavior in response to novelty, and difficulty in task switching.  Dr. Lipton’s results pre-date clinical data from 2012 demonstrating lasting behavioral changes in children exposed to MDMA in utero  highlighting the predictive validity of the animal model.  The laboratory is currently examining the mechanisms whereby MDMA induces neurite sprouting of dopamine and norepinephrine containing neurons. This project has received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH).

Temporal changes in gene expression from dopamine neuron loss

Dr. Lipton’s laboratory is the coordinating Core Laboratory for the MSU Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson’s Disease Research.  Dr. Lipton is currently spearheading a study in collaboration with Center Director Dr. Timothy J. Collier to fully characterize the consequences of 6-hydroxydopamine (dopamine neurotoxin) lesions in the striatum and nigra of Sprague-Dawley rats over time.  The project will examine the gene expression alterations that occur in both the striatum and substantia nigra in response to dopaminergic denervation.  The data will provide insight into the synaptic reorganization in both structures and help inform all projects associated with Udall Center  using the 6-OHDA rodent model.  Subsequent efforts will be aimed at developing a target low density array of genes found to be significantly altered that will be utilized by all projects to determine how therapeutics affect the altered genes.  The goal of the project is to develop new avenues of inquiry for the Udall Center projects as they work toward developing mechanistic explanations for experimental therapeutics or comorbidities associated with Parkinson’s disease.  This project has been funded by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS/NIH)

Collaborative Ventures

Dr. Lipton’s laboratory also collaborates on many projects with colleagues.  These include projects with the Sortwell Laboratory on deep brain stimulation (DBS); repurposing of the drug fasudil as a neuroprotectant in Parkinson’s disease; and examination alpha-synuclein overexpression in the PD brain in the context of aging.  Dr. Lipton is also working cooperatively with several laboratories in the Department of Translational Neuroscience to utilize dopaminergic cell lines with the goal of developing high throughput toxin and therapeutic screens.

Research Techniques

  • Primary and cell line neuronal culture
  • LC/MS
  • HPLC (electrochemical, fluorescence and absorbance)
  • Western Blot
  • Real Time RT-PCR
  • Taqman Low Density Arrays
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Immuhistochemisty
  • Tissue autoradiography/homogenate receptor binding
  • Stereotaxic surgery
  • Microarray