Dr. Frédéric Bretzner is a FRQS researcher in the neuroscience group of the CHU de Quebec and an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences of the Faculty of Medicine at the Université Laval. Since his appointment at Université Laval in 2012, he has pursued his research on the neural control of movement in physiological conditions with the long-term goal of promoting functional locomotor recovery in neuropathological settings affecting gait, such as spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease. As principal investigator, he has obtained funding from national agencies such as the NSERC, CIHR, CFI, and Parkinson Society of Canada, as well as international foundations such as the International Foundation for Research in Paraplegia and Wings for Life. He is the recipient of the 2013 Barbara Turnbull Award on spinal cord injury and two FRQS scholarships in 2012 and 2016. His team is currently composed of four PhD students, one MSc student, and one postdoctoral fellow researcher.

Control and plasticity of motor circuits in physiological and pathological settings

Combining optogenetic, electrophysiological, kinematic, and neuroanatomical techniques in transgenic mice, Dr. Bretzner has previously genetically identified a reticulospinal population of the brainstem important to motor control. His team has furthered this research by identifying and characterizing supraspinal locomotor centers important in initiating, modulating and stopping locomotion in physiological conditions. The team is currently manipulating these neuronal populations to promote functional locomotor recovery in experimental models of spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease.

Development of motor circuits

Using a mutant mouse model, Dr. Bretzner’s team has previously shown that DSCAM, a cell adherence molecule, is important in the development of neural circuits. Although DSCAM mutation does not induce motor rigidity or spasticity, it impairs posture and the repertoire of locomotor gaits (walking versus running gaits). Using spinal cords isolated from neonatal mutant mice, his team recently revealed that DSCAM contributes to the normal establishment of spinal locomotor and sensorimotor circuits. A better understanding of neural mechanisms underlying motor functions will allow us to identify new therapeutic targets to promote motor and locomotor recovery in pathological settings.

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Thiry L, Lemieux M, D Laflamme O, Bretzner F

Role of DSCAM in the development of the spinal locomotor and sensorimotor circuits.

Journal Article

J Neurophysiol, 115 (3), pp. 1338-54, 2016, ISSN: 0022-3077.

Abstract | Links:

Lemieux M, D Laflamme O, Thiry L, Boulanger-Piette A, Frenette J, Bretzner F

Motor hypertonia and lack of locomotor coordination in mutant mice lacking DSCAM.

Journal Article

J Neurophysiol, 115 (3), pp. 1355-71, 2016, ISSN: 0022-3077.

Abstract | Links:

Lemieux M, Josset N, Roussel M, Couraud S, Bretzner F

Speed-Dependent Modulation of the Locomotor Behavior in Adult Mice Reveals Attractor and Transitional Gaits.

Journal Article

Front Neurosci, 10 , pp. 42, 2016, ISSN: 1662-4548.

Abstract | Links:

Sparling JS, Bretzner F, Biernaskie J, Assinck P, Jiang Y, Arisato H, Plunet WT, Borisoff J, Liu J, Miller FD, Tetzlaff W

Schwann cells generated from neonatal skin-derived precursors or neonatal peripheral nerve improve functional recovery after acute transplantation into the partially injured cervical spinal cord of the rat.

Journal Article

J Neurosci, 35 (17), pp. 6714-30, 2015, ISSN: 0270-6474.

Abstract | Links:

Kinkead R, Tenorio L, Drolet G, Bretzner F, Gargaglioni L

Respiratory manifestations of panic disorder in animals and humans: a unique opportunity to understand how supramedullary structures regulate breathing.

Journal Article

Respir Physiol Neurobiol, 204 , pp. 3-13, 2014, ISSN: 1569-9048.

Abstract | Links:

Bretzner F, Brownstone RM

Lhx3-Chx10 reticulospinal neurons in locomotor circuits.

Journal Article

J Neurosci, 33 (37), pp. 14681-92, 2013, ISSN: 0270-6474.

Abstract | Links:

Bretzner F, Gilbert F, Baylis F, Brownstone RM

Target populations for first-in-human embryonic stem cell research in spinal cord injury.

Journal Article

Cell Stem Cell, 8 (5), pp. 468-75, 2011, ISSN: 1934-5909.

Abstract | Links:

Bretzner F, Plemel JR, Liu J, Richter M, Roskams AJ, Tetzlaff W

Combination of olfactory ensheathing cells with local versus systemic cAMP treatment after a cervical rubrospinal tract injury.

Journal Article

J Neurosci Res, 88 (13), pp. 2833-46, 2010, ISSN: 0360-4012.

Abstract | Links:

McMullen NM, Zhang F, Hotchkiss A, Bretzner F, Wilson JM, Ma H, Wafa K, Brownstone RM, Pasumarthi KB

Functional characterization of cardiac progenitor cells and their derivatives in the embryonic heart post-chamber formation.

Journal Article

Dev Dyn, 238 (11), pp. 2787-99, 2009, ISSN: 1058-8388.

Abstract | Links:

Bretzner F, Liu J, Currie E, Roskams AJ, Tetzlaff W

Undesired effects of a combinatorial treatment for spinal cord injury--transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells and BDNF infusion to the red nucleus.

Journal Article

Eur J Neurosci, 28 (9), pp. 1795-807, 2008, ISSN: 0953-816X.

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Active projects

  • Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec - Université Laval, Subvention, Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec - Université Laval, Centres de recherche affiliés, from 2017-01-01 to 2099-12-31
  • Centre thématique de recherche en neurosciences, Subvention, Institutionnel - BDR, BDR - Centres de recherche reconnus, from 1999-06-01 to 2023-05-01
  • Optogenetic stimulation of glutamatergic neurons of the medullary reticular formation to promote the recovery of voluntary locomotor functions following a hemilesion of the spinal cord in mice, Subvention, Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation, from 2019-09-01 to 2020-08-31
  • Plasticity of midbrain nuclei after spinal cord injury, Subvention, Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada, Subvention Projet, from 2019-04-01 to 2024-03-31
  • Plasticity Of Reticulospinal Pathways Following Spinal Cord Injury, Subvention, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, from 2019-07-31 to 2021-07-31
  • Role of DSCAM in the development of motor circuits, Subvention, Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et génie Canada, Subventions à la découverte SD (individuelles et d'équipe), from 2018-04-01 to 2023-03-31

Recently finished projects

  • Plasticité et développement du contrôle moteur., Subvention, Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé, Chercheur-boursier Juniors 1 et 2, Seniors, from 2016-07-01 to 2020-06-30
Data provided by the Université Laval research projects registery