Research group for mood disorders

“Research group for mood disorders”


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 phenotype. 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 factors as well as functional morphological changes in the brain including the corticotropin-releasing factor, urocortin1, serotonin and dopamine containing centers are evaluated.

Members of 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.


Tools and methods:

Behavioral tests (forced swim, light-dark box, marble burying, tail suspension, sucrose preference, open field, rotarod, footfault etc.)

Radioimmunoassay, ELISA, immunocytochemistry, immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, in situ hybridization.


Best 5 publications of the last 5 years:

Neuroscience. 2017 Jun 23;354:11-29.

Neuropharmacology. 2017 May 15;118:26-37.

Neuroscience. 2016 Aug 25;330:335-58.

Neuropeptides. 2013 Dec;47(6):401-19.

Neuroscience. 2012 Jan 27;202:283-99.


The principal investigator’s ID No. at the MTMT database: 10016463



Hungarian grants: OTKA PD 100706, NKFI-124188,

Research grant of Pécs University, Medical School: No: PTE ÁOK KA 2017-01


Members of the group:

Principal investigator:

Balázs Gaszner, MD, PhD, Dr. habil. (associate professor)


Researcher members:

József Farkas MD, assistant professor, PhD candidate

Nóra Füredi MSc, assistant professor, PhD candidate

László Ákos Kovács MD, assistant professor, PhD student

Tamás Gaszner MD, assistant professor, PhD student

Máté Fehér, MD, neurosurgeon, PhD student

Balázs Ujvári, (undergraduate student, general medicine)

Ákos Nagy, (undergraduate student, general medicine)

Dániel Kun, (undergraduate student, general medicine)


Laboratory technician:

Izabella Orbán