Kaoru Saijo, M.D., Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Molecular and Cell Biology
Institution
University of California, Berkeley
Address
439A LSA
City, State, Zip
Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone
(510) 664-7076
E-mail
ksaijo[at]berkeley.edu
Website
https://mcb.berkeley.edu/faculty/IMM/saijok.html
Research Field
Immunology
Award Year
2017

Research

We are interested in the role that immune cells found in the brain, called microglia, play in the development of depression. To understand the biological roots of psychiatric disorders, investigators generally look to neurons and their molecular interactions. But a recent genome-wide study revealed that defects in genes involved in regulating immunity are also associated with depressive disorders. Using an array of methods in cell and molecular genetics, immunology, and neurobiology, our lab will determine whether mutations that alter gene activity in microglia lead to a sustained inflammatory response, whether such changes take place in mouse models of depression, and whether they differentially affect males and females. As a postdoc, I discovered that certain molecules, acting through a microglial estrogen receptor, can suppress this inflammation; if these molecules also relieve depression, they could lead to novel strategies for elevating mood.