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Patricia K Sonsalla Ph.D.

Professor of Neurology Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolEOHSI – Toxicology
Work Clinical Academic Building Room 6208 125 Patterson Street New Brunswick NJ 08901 Work Phone: 732-235-4065 Work Fax: 732-235-5295
Photo of Patricia K Sonsalla Ph.D.

Biographical Info

Research Areas

Our research focuses on neurodegeneration, particularly as relates to Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Currently we are developing a progressive rat model of PD in which the neurotoxicant, 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+), is chronically infused into the left cerebral ventricle via a cannula which is connected to an Alzet pump which delivers for 6 weeks. Using this model, we are investigating the role of microglia and other immune cells in mediating damage to the nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. Furthermore, we are studying the ability of drugs thought to modulate microglia function for their ability to rescue neurons after the process of neurodegeneration has been initiated.

Research Highlights

  • Chronic infusion of MPP+ into the brain ventricle produces progressive degeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons
  • Caffeine, a non-selective adenosine antagonist, rescues dopaminergic neurons when administered weeks after starting MPP+ infusions
  • The angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor, captopril, prevents degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the progressive MPP+ rat model
  • The antiepileptic drug zonisamide protects nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of PD by mechanisms that include inhibition of monoamine oxidase B

Scholarly Activities

Dr. Sonsalla has over 60 peer-reviewed publications and 38 book chapters or review articles; has been an invited speaker at many national and international meeting over the years; is a member of several scientific societies including the Society for Neuroscience, the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and the New York Academy of Sciences; has served in various elected positions for the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and has served on many committees for the society over the years; serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Journal of Neurochemistry and is a reviewer for many journals; has served on many grant review committees for the NIH over the years; has mentored two post-doctoral fellows, served as the thesis advisor for six PhD or MD/PhD students, and has served on thesis committees for another twelve students. has mentored many undergraduate and RISE students as well as students in the PhD programs at RWJMS.

Recent Publications

  1. Johnston, SC, Easton, JD, Farrant, M, Barsan, W, Conwit, RA, Elm, JJ, Kim, AS, Lindblad, AS, Palesch, YY, Clinical Research Collaboration, Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trials Network, and the POINT Investigators et al.. Clopidogrel and Aspirin in Acute Ischemic Stroke and High-Risk TIA. N. Engl. J. Med. 2018;379 (3):215-225. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1800410. PubMed PMID:29766750 PubMed Central PMC6193486
  2. Brobey, RK, German, D, Sonsalla, PK, Gurnani, P, Pastor, J, Hsieh, CC, Papaconstantinou, J, Foster, PP, Kuro-o, M, Rosenblatt, KP et al.. Klotho Protects Dopaminergic Neuron Oxidant-Induced Degeneration by Modulating ASK1 and p38 MAPK Signaling Pathways. PLoS ONE. 2015;10 (10):e0139914. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139914. PubMed PMID:26452228 PubMed Central PMC4599800
  3. Genestine, M, Lin, L, Durens, M, Yan, Y, Jiang, Y, Prem, S, Bailoor, K, Kelly, B, Sonsalla, PK, Matteson, PG et al.. Engrailed-2 (En2) deletion produces multiple neurodevelopmental defects in monoamine systems, forebrain structures and neurogenesis and behavior. Hum. Mol. Genet. 2015;24 (20):5805-27. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddv301. PubMed PMID:26220976 PubMed Central PMC4581606
  4. Schaefer, E, Schnell, G, Sonsalla, J. Obtaining reimbursement in France and Italy for new diabetes products. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2015;9 (1):156-61. doi: 10.1177/1932296814561288. PubMed PMID:25550411 PubMed Central PMC4495523
  5. Sonsalla, PK, Coleman, C, Wong, LY, Harris, SL, Richardson, JR, Gadad, BS, Li, W, German, DC. The angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor captopril protects nigrostriatal dopamine neurons in animal models of parkinsonism. Exp. Neurol. 2013;250 :376-83. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2013.10.014. PubMed PMID:24184050 PubMed Central PMC3889207
  6. Hossain, MM, Sonsalla, PK, Richardson, JR. Coordinated role of voltage-gated sodium channels and the Na+/H+ exchanger in sustaining microglial activation during inflammation. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 2013;273 (2):355-64. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2013.09.011. PubMed PMID:24070585 PubMed Central PMC3874798
  7. Lee, KW, Im, JY, Woo, JM, Grosso, H, Kim, YS, Cristovao, AC, Sonsalla, PK, Schuster, DS, Jalbut, MM, Fernandez, JR et al.. Neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties of a coffee component in the MPTP model of Parkinson's disease. Neurotherapeutics. 2013;10 (1):143-53. doi: 10.1007/s13311-012-0165-2. PubMed PMID:23296837 PubMed Central PMC3557367
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