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Laboratory of Amanda L. Persons

Amanda L. Persons, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Psychiatry, and she is a member of the Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction. She conducts pre-clinical research in collaboration with Dr. T. Celeste Napier on psychiatric and neurological disorder with an emphasis on substance abuse, ADHD, Parkinson's disease and HIV.

Current Projects

Impulse Control Disorder in Parkinson's Disease

The motor pathology associated with Parkinson’s disease occurs following degeneration of the dopamine neurons in the nigrostriatal pathway. Dopamine agonists, including pramipexole, are front-line therapy to treat the motor dysfunction in early-stage Parkinson’s. Unfortunately, many treated patients develop impulse control disorders that include devastating behaviors like problem gambling, complusive shopping and binge eating. 

This project focuses on how treatments for PD change the normal biochemistry of brain regions that are involved in impulsivity. Our long-term goal is to identify new treatments that can avoid inducing impulse control disorders while still providing the needed motor benefits.

Risk Factors for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is devastating neurological disorder that affects ~7 million people globally. Its etiology is unclear, but both genetic and environmental factors are contributors. Epidemiological data suggest that psycho stimulants like methamphetamine and amphetamine may be more likely to develop PD later in life. These projects focus on the biological link between methamphetamine addiction, amphetamine-treated ADHD and PD, and will forward our long term goals to describe biomarkers that identify individuals at risk for PD. With this early detection, our goal is to also provide treatments that can slow/halt the progression of the disease.

HIV/Substance Abuse Comorbidity

Methamphetamine (meth) abuse and addiction is a serious problem in the HIV-infected community. Meth-abusing HIVpos individuals exhibit a greater morbidity and mortality than HIVpos individuals who do not abuse meth, or HIVneg meth abusers. The mechanisms that drive this synergistic pathology are not known, and a long term goal of this research program is to identify these pathological mechanisms and to develop therapies that mitigate HIV/meth abuse comorbidity. Recently, science has documented that the status of the gut impacts the status of the brain. This project applies this knowledge toward studies on how meth abuse worsens the brain effects of HIV infection. Outcomes should prove to be critically important in developing new therapeutic means to slow the devastation of HIV/AIDS comorbidity with meth abuse, and potentially to reduce the desire to take meth.

Medication Development for Substance Use Disorders

We are using rodent models to test the utility of compounds to reduce addiction to opiods and psychostimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Our focus is on compounds that engage GABAergic, glutamatergic and serotonergic systems.

Selected Publications

Note: Persons previously published as A.L. Mickiewicz.

Napier TC, Persons AL, (2019) Pharmacological insights into implusive-complusive spectrum disorders associated with dopaminergic therapy. Eur J Neurosci. Sep 20. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14177

Persons AL, Bradaric BD, Dodiya HB, Ohene-Nyako M, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A, Shaikh M, Napier TC. (2018) Colon dyregulation in methamphetamine self-adminstering HIV-1 transgenic rats. PLoS One. 13:e0190078. eCollection 2018.

Flack A, Persons AL, Kousik SM, Napier TC, Moszczynska A. (2017) Self-adminstration of methamphetamine alters gut biomarkers of toxicity. Eur J Neurosci. 46:1918-1932.

Persons AL, Tedford SE, Napier TC. (2017) Mirtazapine and ketanserin alter preference for gambling-like schedules of reinforcement in rats. Prog Neropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 77:178-184.

Holtz NA, Tedford SE, Persons AL, Grasso SA, Napier TC. (2016) Pharmacologically distinct pramipexole-mediated akinesia vs risk-taking in a rat model of Parkinson's disease. Prog Neropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 70:77-84.

Wayman WN, Chen L, Persons AL, Napier TC. (2015) Cortical consequences of HIV-1 Tat exposure in rats are enhanced by chronic coaine. Curr HIV Res. 13:80-87

Tedford SE, Persons AL, Napier TC. (2015) Dopaminergic lesions of the dorsolateral striatum in rates increase delay discounting in a impulsive choice task. PLoS One. 10:e0122063

Herrold AA, Persons AL, Napier TC. (2013) Cellular distribution of AMPA receptor subunits and mGlu5 following acute and repeated adminstration of morphine or methamphetamine. J Neurochem. 126:503-517.

Rokosik SL, Persons AL, Napier TC. (2013) Sensitization by ventral pallidal DAMGO: lack of cross-sensitization to morphine. NeuroReport. 24:152-158.

Graves SM, Persons AL, Riddle JL, Napier TC. (2012) The atypical antidepressant mirtazapine attenuates expression of morphine-induced place preference and motor sensitization. Brain Res. 1472:45-53.

Wayman WN, Dodiya HB, Persons AL, Kashanchi F, Kordower JH, Hu XT, Napier TC. (2012) Enduring cortical alterations after a single in vivo treatment of HIV-1 Tat. NeuroReport. 23:825-829

Mickiewicz AL, Kordower JH. (2011) GDNF family ligands: a potential future for Parkinson’s disease therapy. CNS Neurolog Disord Drug Targets. 10:703-711.

Mickiewicz AL, Napier TC. (2011) Repeated exposure to morphine alters surface expression of AMPA receptors in the rat medial prefrontal cortex. Eur J Neurosci. 33:259-265.

Voigt RM, Mickiewicz AL, Napier TC. (2011) Repeated mirtazapine nullifies the maintenance of a previously established methamphetamine-induced conditioned place preference in rats. Behav Brain Res. 225:91-96.

Chu Y, Mickiewicz AL, Kordower JH. (2011) α-synuclein aggregation reduces nigral myocyte enhancer factor-2D in idiopathic and experimental Parkinson's disease. Neurobiol Dis. 41:71-82