My research interests are centered upon how neuropeptide systems and steroid hormones interact within the brain to influence complex behavior. More specifically, a portion of my work focuses on how small physiological changes in serum progesterone levels, which can be increased by a number of environmental and social stimuli, can act upon cells within restricted brain regions to control anxiety-related and social behavior using male rats as a model. One neuropeptide system of particular interest is the vasopressin system, as this system is sexually dimorphic and highly responsive to steroids. The extrahypothalamic vasopressin cells are nearly 100 percent co-expressed with progesterone receptors, and progesterone treatment of male rats suppresses the expression of extrahypothalamic vasopressin in the brain. Based on these data, I am interested in trying to understand how progesterone influences various vasopressin-linked behaviors, such as social and anxiety-related behaviors, within the male rat brain. The techniques we use to examine these research questions range from protein analysis, gene expression assays, to behavioral analysis. The multi-tiered technical approach used in our lab to examine both behavior and physiology allows us to make meaningful hypothesis about behavioral outcomes.
Auger,C.J., and De Vries,G.J. (2002) Distribution and steroid responsiveness of progestin receptor immunoreactivity within vasopressin-immunoreactive cells in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the centromedial amygdala of male and female rat brain. Journal of Neuroendocrinology
Auger C.J., Jessen H.M., and Auger A.P. (2006) Microarray profiling of gene expression patterns in adult male rat brain following acute progesterone treatment. Brain Research.
Auger C.J., and Vanzo, R.J. (2006) Progesterone treatment of adult male rats suppresses arginine vasopressin expression in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the centromedial amygdala. Journal of Neuroendocrinology. Mar;18(3):187-94