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, 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:

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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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:

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

Impact of ovariectomy and CO 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 CO 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.

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Laflamme OD, Lemieux M, Thiry L, Bretzner F

DSCAM Mutation Impairs Motor Cortex Network Dynamic and Voluntary Motor Functions

Journal Article

Cereb Cortex, 29 (6), 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:

Gratuze M, Josset N, Petry FR, Pflieger M, Eyoum Jong L, Truchetti G, Poitras I, Julien J, Bezeau F, Morin F, Samadi P, Cicchetti F, Bretzner F, Planel E

The toxin MPTP generates similar cognitive and locomotor deficits in hTau and tau knock-out mice

Journal Article

Brain Res, 1711 , 2019.

Abstract | Links:

Mdzomba JB, Jordi N, Rodriguez L, Joly S, Bretzner F, Pernet V

Nogo-A inactivation improves visual plasticity and recovery after retinal injury

Journal Article

Cell Death Dis, 9 (7), 2018.

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Active projects

  • Deep brain photometry of spatially distinct brain areas using a single optical fiber, from 2022-03-31 to 2024-03-30
  • Plasticité et développement du contrôle moteur, from 2020-07-01 to 2024-06-30
  • 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 2023-03-31

Recently finished projects

  • 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, from 2019-09-01 to 2021-06-30
  • Plasticité et développement du contrôle moteur., from 2016-07-01 to 2020-06-30
Data provided by the Université Laval research projects registery