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Congratulations to Laurence Dion-Albert, Prix Relève étoile Jacques-Genest from the FRQS!

Congratulations to Laurence Dion-Albert, a doctoral student in neuroscience at the CERVO Research Centre, under the supervision of Caroline Ménard, who has been awarded the FRQS Relève étoile Jacques-Genest award for May!

She wins this award for the publication

  Vascular and blood-brain barrier-related changes underlie stress responses and resilience in female mice and depression in human tissue, published in : Nature Communications


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and one in five people will be affected in their lifetime. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is responsible for protecting the brain and preventing toxins, pathogens and harmful inflammatory molecules in the bloodstream from entering the brain. In addition, it allows water, nutrients and vitamins to pass through to the brain to feed the neurons. The laboratory where Laurence Dion-Albert works has previously shown alterations in the BBB in male mice exposed to chronic stress as well as in men with MDD. Interestingly, these changes were restricted to a region important for emotional control, the nucleus accumbens. In this study, Laurence Dion-Albert and colleagues report for the first time alterations of the BBB in the prefrontal cortex of female mice and women with depression. This region is involved in anxiety and self-esteem. The results demonstrate that BBB dysfunction plays an important role in the stress response in mice and in MDD in humans in a gender-specific manner. These results could lead to the discovery of new mechanisms and innovative diagnostic tools in mental health to help men and women worldwide.