Céline Nicolas selected by the ATIP-Avenir programme

Céline Nicolas, currently a post-doctoral researcher in Anne Beyeler’s team at the Neurocentre Magendie, is one of the ATIP-Avenir 2023 prize-winners.

Conceived as part of a partnership between Inserm and the CNRS, the ATIP-Avenir programme enables around twenty young researchers each year to set up their own research team in the fields of life sciences and health.

Céline Nicolas’ team will be created in 2024 at the INCIA. Her project, assessed by an international jury for the written phase and the interview, is on the following subject:

Progesterone Treatment to prevent cocaine relapse: Decoding the brain mechanisms

Drug addiction is a mental disorder characterized by a long-lasting risk of relapse even after long periods of abstinence. Despite decades of clinical and preclinical research on relapse to drug use, drug relapse still lacks efficient therapeutic strategies. In this regard, we identified that sex differences and ovarian hormones have been overlooked, although they strongly influence addiction-related behaviors, including relapse.

In the specific case of cocaine relapse, the hormonal cycle is a crucial player of sex differences in both humans and rodents. Indeed, female rats have higher cue-induced cocaine relapse than males, but this vulnerability decreases during the phase of the hormonal cycle when progesterone levels are high, suggesting a protective effect of this hormone. Although evidence suggest that ovarian hormones modulate the dopaminergic mesolimbic system, the specific neuronal circuits encoding progesterone protective effects on cocaine relapse remains unknown. Thus, the objective of my research program is to decipher the coding properties and functional role of mesocorticolimbic circuits in progesterone protective effect on cocaine relapse. To achieve this goal we will use animal models of drug relapse combined with cutting-edge technologies  allowing the mapping, manipulation, imaging and recording of selective neural populations.

My research project will provide fundamental knowledge on sex-dependent behaviors and circuits mechanisms of cocaine relapse and will unravel novel understanding of progesterone as a potential therapeutic strategy against cocaine relapse.

Publication: 12/07/23
Last update 20/07/23