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Dr. Eric Downer

Position: Assistant Professor in Human Health and Disease
Contact: Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin
Tel: 353-01-896-2076

Research Interests

My research interest is in neuroimmunology, with emphasis on the role of the innate immune system in neuroinflammatory conditions, particularly Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I have a particular interest in the cannabinoid system, and its role in regulating neuroinflammation. My research in this field has made significant contributions to our understanding of cannabinoids as anti-inflammatory therapies in MS.

Media articles on my research:
Irish Examiner
Irish Times

Recent Publications

  • Fallarino, F., Gargaro, M., Mondanell, G., Downer, E.J., Hossain, M.J. and Gran, B. (2015) Delineating the Role of Toll-Like Receptors in the Neuro-inflammation Model EAE. Methods Molecular Biology, (in press).
  • Crowley, T., Fitzpatrick, J., Kuijper. T., Cryan, J.F., O’Toole, O., O'Leary, O.F. and Downer, E.J. (2015) Modulation of TLR3/TLR4 inflammatory signaling by the GABAB receptor agonist baclofen in glia and immune cells: relevance to therapeutic effects in multiple sclerosis. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. (in press)
  • Prenderville, J., Kelly, A. and Downer, E.J. (2015) Cannabinoids and Neurogenesis. British Journal of Pharmacology. 72(16):3950-63.
  • Collins, L.M., Downer, E.J., Toulouse, A. and Nolan, Y.M. (2015) Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Phosphatase (MKP)-1 in Nervous System Development and Disease. Molecular Neurobiology. 51(3):1158-67.
  • McDonough, P., McKenna, J.P., McCreary, C. and Downer, E.J. (2014) Neuropathic orofacial pain: cannabinoids as a therapeutic avenue. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology. 55C:72-78
  • O’Halloran, S., O’Leary, A., Kuijper, T. and Downer, E.J. (2014) MyD88 acts as an adaptor protein for inflammatory signalling induced by amyloid-β in macrophages. Immunology Letters. 162(1 Pt A):109-18.
  • Downer, E.J. and Finn, D.P. (2014) Cannabinoids: Clearing the smoke on pain, inflammation and neurodegeneration. British Journal of Pharmacology. 171(6):1341-4. [editorial]
  • Downer, E.J. (2014) High Hopes for CB2 in Neurogenesis. British Journal of Pharmacology. 171(6):1345-6. [commentary]
  • Downer, E.J., Jones, R., McDonald, C.L., Greco, E., Brenna, S., Connor, T.J., Robertson, I.H. and Lynch, M.A. (2013) Identifying early inflammatory changes in monocyte-derived macrophages from a population with IQ- discrepant episodic memory. PLoS ONE. 8(5), e63194.
  • Downer, E.J., Johnson, D. and Lynch, M.A. (2013) Differential role of Dok1 and Dok2 in TLR2-induced inflammatory signalling in glia. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. 56C, 148-158.
  • Downer, E.J. (2013) Toll-like receptor signaling in Alzheimer’s Disease progression. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinsonism - special edition on Neurodegeneration. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Downer, E.J.*, Clifford, E., Amu, S., Fallon, P.G. and Moynagh, P.N*. (2012) The synthetic cannabinoid R(+)WIN55,212-2 augments interferon-β expression via peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 287(30), 25,440-25,453. (*Contributed equally as senior authors).
  • Lyons, A., Downer, E.J., Costello, D.A., Murphy, N. and Lynch M.A. (2012) Dok2 mediates the CD200Fc    attenuation of Ab-induced changes in glia. Journal of Neuroinflammation. 9(1):107.
  • Downer, E.J. (2011) Cannabinoids and innate immunity: taking a toll on neuroinflammation. The Scientific World Journal. 11, 855-865.
  • Downer, E.J., Clifford, E., Gran, B., Nel, H.J., Fallon, P.G. and Moynagh, P.N. (2011) Identification of the synthetic cannabinoid R(+)WIN55,212-2 as a novel regulator of IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) activation and IFN-b expression: relevance to therapeutic effects in models of multiple sclerosis. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286(12), 10,316-10328.
  • Kelly, L., Grehan, B., Chiesa, A.D., O'Mara, S.M., Downer, E., Sahyoun, G., Massey, K.A., Nicolaou, A. and Lynch, M.A. (2010) The polyunsaturated fatty acids, EPA and DPA exert a protective effect in the hippocampus of the aged rat. Neurobiology of Ageing, 32(12): 2318.e1-15.
  • Downer, E.J. and Campbell, V.A. (2010) Phytocannabinoids, CNS cells and development: A dead issue? Drug and Alcohol Reviews, 29(1), 91-98.
  • Downer, E.J., Cowley, T., Lyons, A., Mills, K.H.G., Berezin, V., Bock, E. and Lynch M.A. (2010) A novel anti-inflammatory role of NCAM-derived mimetic peptide, FGL. Neurobiology of Ageing,31(1), 118-128.
  • Lyons, A., Lynch, A.M., Downer, E.J., Hanley, R., O’Sullivan, J.B., Smith, A. and Lynch M.A. (2009) Fractalkine-induced activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase pathway attenuates microglial activation in vivo and in vitro. Journal of Neurochemistry, 110(5), 1547-1556.
  • Lyons, A., McQuillan, K., Deighan, B., O’Reilly, J.A., Downer, E.J., Murphy, A.C., Watson, M., Piazza, A., O’Connell, F., Griffin, R., Mills, K.H.G. and Lynch M.A. (2009) Decreased neuronal CD200 expression in IL-4 deficient mice results in increased neuroinflammation in response to lipopolysaccharide. Brain Behaviour Immunity, 23(7), 1020-1027.
  • Downer, E.J., Cowley, T., Cox, F., Maher, F.O., Berezin, V., Bock, E. and Lynch M.A. (2009) A synthetic NCAM-derived mimetic peptide, FGL, exerts anti-inflammatory properties via IGF-1 and interferon-γ modulation. The Journal of Neurochemistry, 109(5), 1516-1525.
  • Downer, E.J., Gowran, A. and Campbell, V.A. (2007) A comparison of the apoptotic effect of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol in the neonatal and adult rat cerebral cortex. Brain Research, 1175, 39-47.
  • Downer, E.J.*, Lyons, A.*, Crotty, S., Nolan, Y.M., Mills, K.H.G. and Lynch, M.A. (2007) CD200 ligand-receptor interaction modulates microglial activation in vivo and in vitro; a role for IL-4. The Journal of Neuroscience. 27(31), 8309-8313. (*Authors contributed equally to work).
  • Downer, E.J., Gowran, A., Murphy, Á.C. and Campbell, V.A. (2007) The tumour suppressor protein, p53, is involved in the activation of the apoptotic cascade by D9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in cultured cortical neurons. European Journal of Pharmacology, 564(1-3), 57-65.
  • Downer, E.J., Fogarty, M.P. and Campbell, V.A. (2003) Tetrahydrocannabinol-induced neurotoxicity depends on CB1 receptor-mediated c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation in cultured cortical neurons. British Journal of Pharmacology, 140, 547-557.
  • Fogarty, M.P., Downer, E.J. and Campbell, V.A. (2003) A role for c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1), but not JNK2, in the b-amyloid-mediated stabilization of protein p53 and induction of the apoptotic cascade in cultured cortical neurons. Biochemical Journal, 371, 789-798.
  • Downer, E., Boland, B., Fogarty, M. and Campbell, V. (2001) D9-Tetrahydrocannabinol induces the apoptotic pathway in cultured cortical neurones via activation of the CB1 receptor. Neuroreport, 12(18), 3973-3978.

Book Chapters

  • Miller, A-M., Deighan, B., Downer, E.J., Lyons, A., Henric-Noak, P., Nolan, Y. and Lynch, M.A. (2011) Analysis of the impact of CD200 on neurodegeneration. In: Neurodegenerative Diseases – Processes, Prevention, Protection and Monitoring.  ISBN: 978-953-307-485-6, InTech.
  • Campbell, V.A. and Downer, E.J. (2008) Cannabinoids and Neuroprotection. In: Cannabinoids and the Brain.Spinger Verlag, pp. 317-329.

Research Funding

IRC, HRB, the Physiological Society UK and the British Neuropathological Society.