Neurophysiology of Osmoregulation
The Bourque lab studies how the mammalian brain monitors the ratio of salt to water (fluid osmolality) via special neurons called osmoreceptors. We are interested in how mechanosensitive ion channels and neuro-glial interactions allow osmoreceptors to detect changes in extracellular fluid osmolality. We are also interested in how synaptic signals distributed in central osmoregulatory circuits mediate changes in behavior (thirst, salt appetite), hormone release and autonomic function to adjust blood pressure, blood volume and fluid osmolality. Finally, we are interested in mechanisms that modulate osmoregulatory circuits. In particular, we are investigating the basis for modulation by changes in blood volume and body temperature, as well as for the circadian modulation of osmoregulatory function.