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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Lemieux M, Karimi N, Bretzner F

Functional plasticity of glutamatergic neurons of medullary reticular nuclei after spinal cord injury in mice

Journal Article

Nat Commun, 15 (1), 2024.

Abstract | Links:

Tabourin L, Bretzner F, Galstian T

Towards a mini-endoscope design with spatially selective excitation and imaging

Journal Article

Biomed Opt Express, 15 (3), 2024.

Abstract | Links:

Roussel M, Lafrance-Zoubga D, Josset N, Lemieux M, Bretzner F

Functional contribution of mesencephalic locomotor region nuclei to locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury

Journal Article

Cell Rep Med, 4 (2), 2023.

Abstract | Links:

Thiry L, Lemaire C, Rastqar A, Lemieux M, Peng J, Ferent J, Roussel M, Beaumont E, Fawcett JP, Brownstone RM, Charron F, Bretzner F

Heterozygous Dcc Mutant Mice Have a Subtle Locomotor Phenotype

Journal Article

eNeuro, 9 (2), 2022.

Abstract | Links:

Lemieux M, Thiry L, Laflamme OD, Bretzner F

Role of DSCAM in the Development of Neural Control of Movement and Locomotion

Journal Article

Int J Mol Sci, 22 (16), 2021.

Abstract | Links:

Bagramyan A, Tabourin L, Rastqar A, Karimi N, Bretzner F, Galstian T

Focus-tunable microscope for imaging small neuronal processes in freely moving animals

Journal Article

Photonics Res, 9 (7), 2021.

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Marques DA, Gargaglioni LH, Joseph V, Bretzner F, Bícego KC, Fournier S, Kinkead R

Impact of ovariectomy and CO2 inhalation on microglia morphology in select brainstem and hypothalamic areas regulating breathing in female rats

Journal Article

Brain Res, 1756 , 2021.

Abstract | Links:

Tenorio-Lopes L, Fournier S, Henry MS, Bretzner F, Kinkead R

Disruption of estradiol regulation of orexin neurons: a novel mechanism in excessive ventilatory response to CO2 inhalation in a female rat model of panic disorder

Journal Article

Transl Psychiatry, 10 (1), 2020.

Abstract | Links:

Lemieux M, Bretzner F

Glutamatergic neurons of the gigantocellular reticular nucleus shape locomotor pattern and rhythm in the freely behaving mouse

Journal Article

PLoS Biol, 17 (4), 2019.

Abstract | Links:

Fournier S, Boukari R, Chamberland S, Bretzner F, Joseph V, Kinkead R

Distinct dampening effects of progesterone on the activity of nucleus tractus solitarii neurons in rat pups

Journal Article

Exp Physiol, 104 (4), 2019.

Abstract | Links:

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Active projects

  • Deep brain photometry of spatially distinct brain areas using a single optical fiber, from 2022-03-31 to 2025-03-30
  • Distinct functional contribution of Sub-Thalamic Locomotor Region nuclei to motor control before and after spinal cord injury, from 2023-10-01 to 2025-09-30
  • Genetic dissection of propriospinal interneuronal pathways and their reticulospinal inputs pertaining to locomotor control and recovery after spinal cord injury, from 2023-10-01 to 2028-09-30
  • Plasticité et développement du contrôle moteur, from 2020-07-01 to 2024-06-30
  • Role of DSCAM in the development and maintenance of motor circuits, from 2024-04-01 to 2029-03-31

Recently finished projects

  • Optimisation du site de stimulation profonde dans la région mésencéphalique, from 2022-03-30 to 2023-03-29
  • Plasticity of midbrain nuclei after spinal cord injury, from 2019-04-01 to 2024-03-31
  • Plasticity Of Reticulospinal Pathways Following Spinal Cord Injury, from 2019-07-31 to 2022-07-31
  • Plasticity of Reticulospinal Pathways to Promote Functional Locomotor Recovery following Spinal Cord Injury, from 2022-02-01 to 2023-01-31
  • Role of DSCAM in the development of motor circuits, from 2018-04-01 to 2024-03-31
Data provided by the Université Laval research projects registery