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Basavaraj Balapal, Ph.D.

Basavaraj Balapal, Ph.D.

Research Scientist
Center for Dementia Research

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Dr. Raj Balapal received his Ph.D. from Mysore University in Biochemistry in 1994. His postdoctoral training was at the Columbia University Medical Center and NYSPI prior to beginning as a Research Scientist at the Nathan Kline Institute in 2000. His research uses a mouse model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) to investigate the impact of alcohol exposure during early development on synaptic plasticity and learning and memory behavior and the underlying cannabinoid receptor mediated signaling changes in hippocampus. His recent publications have showed that there are changes in anandamide, their metabolism, CB1 receptor signaling leading to neurodegeneration in neonatal brain neocortex and hippocampus. These changes lead to synaptic plasticity and learning and memory deficits in adult animals. Very recent work has demonstrated that alcohol exposure during third trimester development impacts epigenetic markers which could underlie the long-term changes seen in this animal model. In addition to the work on FASDs, Dr. Balapal has recently started a new line of research using mice to examining the dangerous consequences of abuse of synthetic cannabinoids (Spice compounds). Dr. Balapal uses state-of-the-art tests of animal behavior, neuroanatomical techniques, neurochemical and neurophysiological (hippocampal primary neurons and hippocampal slices electrophysiology) techniques to answer his research questions.

Select Publications

Epigenetic abnormalities due to developmental ethanol exposure:

  • Joshi V, Subbanna S, Shivakumar M, Basavarajappa BS. CB1R regulates CDK5 signaling and epigenetically controls Rac1 expression contributing to neurobehavioral abnormalities in mice postnatally exposed to ethanol. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 Aug 22. PMID: 30143782.
  • Subbanna S, Nagre NN, Shivakumar M, Joshi V, Psychoyos D, Kutlar A, Umapathy NS, Basavarajappa BS. CB1R-Mediated Activation of Caspase-3 Causes Epigenetic and Neurobehavioral Abnormalities in Postnatal Ethanol-Exposed Mice. Front Mol Neurosci. 2018 Feb 20;11:45. PubMed PMID: 29515368.
  • Subbanna S, Nagre NN, Shivakumar M, Basavarajappa BS. A single day of 5-azacytidine exposure during development induces neurodegeneration in neonatal mice and neurobehavioral deficits in adult mice. Physiol Behav. 2016 Dec 1;167:16-27. PubMed PMID: 27594097.
  • Basavarajappa BS, Subbanna S. Epigenetic Mechanisms in Developmental Alcohol-Induced Neurobehavioral Deficits. Brain Sci. 2016 Apr 8;6(2). PubMed PMID: 27070644.
  • Subbanna S, Nagre NN, Umapathy NS, Pace BS, Basavarajappa BS. Ethanol exposure induces neonatal neurodegeneration by enhancing CB1R Exon1 histone H4K8 acetylation and up-regulating CB1R function causing neurobehavioral abnormalities in adult mice. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Oct 31;18(5). PubMed PMID: 25609594.
  • Nagre NN, Subbanna S, Shivakumar M, Psychoyos D, Basavarajappa BS. CB1-receptor knockout neonatal mice are protected against ethanol-induced impairments of DNMT1, DNMT3A, and DNA methylation. J Neurochem. 2015 Feb;132(4):429-442. PubMed PMID: 25487288.

Signaling defects due to alcohol exposure during development:

  • Subbanna S, Joshi V, Basavarajappa BS. Activity-dependent Signaling and Epigenetic Abnormalities in Mice Exposed to Postnatal Ethanol. Neuroscience. 2018 Jul 20. PubMed PMID: 30031835.
  • Basavarajappa BS, Shivakumar M, Joshi V, Subbanna S. Endocannabinoid system in neurodegenerative disorders. J Neurochem. 2017 Sep;142(5):624-648. PubMed PMID: 28608560.
  • Basavarajappa BS. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Potential Role of Endocannabinoids Signaling. Brain Sci. 2015 Oct 29;5(4):456-93. PubMed PMID: 26529026.
  • Subbanna S, Shivakumar M, Psychoyos D, Xie S, Basavarajappa BS. Anandamide-CB1 receptor signaling contributes to postnatal ethanol-induced neonatal neurodegeneration, adult synaptic, and memory deficits. J Neurosci. 2013 Apr 10;33(15):6350-66. [Erratum in: J Neurosci. 2013 Jul 3;33(27):11323.] PubMed PMID: 23575834.