Professor and Assistant Dean, School of Dentistry
Neurobiology of Disease
Brain and Behavior
B.S. 1988, Western Michigan University; M.S. 1990, Western Michigan University; Ph.D. 1994, Michigan State University; Postdoctoral Fellow 1994-1995, National Institutes of Health - National Institute on Drug Abuse, Addiction Research Center
Neuropharmacology, neurochemistry and aminergic transporters
Some psychostimulants of abuse can cause persistent damage to dopaminergic and/or
serotonergic neurons in rodents, non-human primates and humans. For example, methamphetamine
administration causes persistent dopaminergic deficits that, in part, resemble deficits
occurring in Parkinson's disease. Dr. Fleckenstein's laboratory investigates receptor-mediated
and subcellular mechanisms contributing to these deficits. A particular focus of the
laboratory involves investigating the effects of stimulants on monoaminergic transporters,
both because of relevance to the neurotoxicity of stimulants, and because of the laboratory's
ongoing interest in the abuse liability of these agents.
A variety of techniques are employed in Dr. Fleckenstein's laboratory including radioligand binding, monoamine uptake assays, western blotting, autoradiography, and high performance liquid chromatography to assess alterations in monoaminergic neuronal function after both non-contingent, and more recently, contingent drug administration.
Ongoing projects involve investigating the impact of synthetic cathinones on monoaminergic neuronal function and behavior. Also of interest are mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effects of nicotinic receptor activation. Finally, using the Utah Population Data Base Dr. Fleckenstein and colleagues (Curtin et al., Neuropsychopharmacology, 2018) recently reported that individuals with attention deficit disorder are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease: preclinical studies to determine mechanisms underlying this vulnerability are planned."