Lars Westberg

University of Gothenburg

Key publications

Reelin cells and sex-dependent synaptopathology in autism following postnatal immune activation.
Maryam Ardalan, Tetyana Chumak, Alexandra Quist, Eva Hermans, Ali Hoseinpoor Rafati, Giacomo Gravina, Seyedeh Marziyeh Jabbari Shiadeh, Pernilla Svedin, Setareh Alabaf, Brian Hansen, Gregers Wegener, Lars Westberg, Carina Mallard
British Journal of Pharmacology – 2022

A randomized placebo-controlled intranasal oxytocin study on first impressions and reactions to social rejection.
Susanne Henningsson, S. Leknes, M. Asperholm, M. Eikemo, Lars Westberg
Biological Psychology – 2021

The effect of intranasal oxytocin on visual processing and salience of human faces.
Daniel Hovey, L. Martens, B. Laeng, S. Leknes, Lars Westberg
Translational Psychiatry – 2020

Oxytocin Receptors Regulate Social Preference in Zebrafish.
Jenny Landin, Daniel Hovey, Bo Xu, David Lagman, Anna Zettergren, Dan Larhammar, Petronella Kettunen, Lars Westberg
Scientific reports – 2020

Social behaviours are crucial for the both the survival and propagation of most species. Social deficits and impairments in social development are prominent in many neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Furthermore, the neuropeptide oxytocin as well as the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are known to regulate sociability in humans and other mammals.

The experimental animal model species zebrafish (Danio rerio) holds advantages for research on autism and social behaviors. Zebrafish is a vertebrate that possess high genetic homology with humans, an evolutionarily conserved brain and is commonly used for developmental studies of brain function. Zebrafish are also highly social, and are mainly relying on their vision (rather than on olfaction as is the case for rodents) when they interact with each other.  

The main goals of our current research are to use zebrafish to characterize the molecular and neuronal mechanisms in the development of sociability and to identify drugs enhancing oxytocin production. We hope that the project will substantially increase the current knowledge about the early development of the social brain. Most likely, these are the processes that are altered in infants that later develops autism. Furthermore, our drug screen approach using larval zebrafish has great potential to find drug molecules that may relieve social problems experienced by individuals with autism, and their families.

Group members

Lars Westberg, Professor, Principal Investigator
Pierre Cronell, PhD student
Noor Hassan, PhD student
Lindsay Zentveld Einarsson, Biomedical scientist
Fatima Eken, student

Last updated: 2024-01-26

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