Fulton T. Crews, Ph.D.


Office| 1021 Thurston Bowles Bldg, CB 7178
Email | ftcrews@med.unc.edu
Lab Website | Molecular Pharmacology

Research Interests

Mental disease, including addiction and neurodegeneration, are central themes of the laboratory's research. Addiction has many components, one of which is long term changes in gene expression and structure in brain. Binge drinking-induced changes in specific brain regions is hypothesized to contribute to the progression to addiction. This could overlap with brain structure/function changes in other mental diseases, particularly depression. The mechanisms of binge drinking-induced brain damage are not clearly understood but appear to involve oxidative changes in brain similar to aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Alcoholics are known to have reduced brain mass which begins to grow back during recovery. Recent studies have suggested that neuroinflammation may contribute to degeneration and loss of neurogenesis during binge drinking. In contrast to the degeneration found during binge drinking there is a regeneration of brain cells during abstinence that could be related to recovery from addiction. Three key areas are investigated using rat models: the mechanisms, characteristics and functional consequences of binge drinking-induced brain damage. Histochemical, neurochemical and gene induction studies investigate the changes in brain and associated behaviors found with binge drinking induced brain damage. Current studies suggest that neuroinflammation contributes to degeneration and loss of neurogenesis, whereas regeneration during abstinence-recovery is related to increased neurogenesis.

A second area of research interest involves stem cells, which are found in specific brain regions and form new neurons. These stem cells could be involved in the regeneration of the brain during recovery from addiction. Binge drinking reduces proliferation of neural progenitor cells in brain.

A third area of research involves the use of gene delivery to understand how alterations in genes alter brain function and behavior.

Center Line Articles

Recent Publications

Click for full publication list on PubMed

    Chronic ethanol increases systemic TLR3 agonist-induced neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.Qin L, Crews FT.J Neuroinflammation. 2012 Jun 18;9:130.

    Inflammasome-IL-1β Signaling Mediates Ethanol Inhibition of Hippocampal Neurogenesis. Zou J, Crews FT. Front Neurosci. 2012;6:77. Epub 2012 May 30

    Postnatal day 7 ethanol treatment causes persistent reductions in adult mouse brain volume and cortical neurons with sex specific effects on neurogenesis.Coleman LG Jr, Oguz I, Lee J, Styner M, Crews FT. Alcohol. 2012 Sep;46(6):603-12.

    ATP-P2X7 receptor signaling controls basal and TNFα-stimulated glial cell proliferation. Zou J, Vetreno RP, Crews FT.Glia. 2012 Apr;60(4):661-73. doi: 10.1002/glia.22302. Epub 2012 Feb 1

    NADPH oxidase and reactive oxygen species contribute to alcohol-induced microglial activation and neurodegeneration. Qin L, Crews FT. J Neuroinflammation. 2012 Jan 12;9:5. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-9-5.

    Chronically Implanted, Nafion-Coated Ag/AgCl Reference Electrodes for Neurochemical Applications. Hashemi P, Walsh PL, Guillot TS, Gras-Najjar J, Takmakov P, Crews FT, Wightman RM. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2011 Nov 16;2(11):658-666.

    Periadolescent ethanol exposure reduces adult forebrain ChAT+IR neurons: correlation with behavioral pathology. Ehlers CL, Criado JR, Wills DN, Liu W, Crews FT. Neuroscience. 2011 Dec 29;199:333-45. Epub 2011 Oct 18

    Addiction, adolescence, and innate immune gene induction. Crews FT, Vetreno RP. Front Psychiatry. 2011;2:19. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

    Induction of innate immune genes in brain create the neurobiology of addiction. Crews FT, Zou J, Qin L. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Jun;25 Suppl 1:S4-S12. Epub 2011 Mar 21. Review

    Adolescent binge drinking alters adult brain neurotransmitter gene expression, behavior, brain regional volumes, and neurochemistry in mice. Coleman LG Jr, He J, Lee J, Styner M, Crews FT. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011 Apr;35(4):671-88.