In This Section

Victor Luna, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Neural Sciences
Assistant Professor, Alzheimer’s Center at Temple

Victor Luna
Contact Information

Contact Information



About Me

Research Interests

The Laboratory on Synaptic Aging investigates the neurobiology of cognitive aging using mouse model systems. We aim to identify molecular mechanisms that rejuvenate synapses in the aged brain, with a clear view towards translating these findings to pharmacological treatments that could rescue memory impairments due to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

We employ an integrative approach where: 1) translatable memory impairments are modeled in old mice, 2) underlying synaptic mechanisms are identified using electrophysiology, optogenetics, and chemogenetics, and 3) their therapeutic potential assessed using targeted gene manipulation and photopharmacology.

Additionally, through collaborations in the Alzheimer's Center at Temple, we use these approaches to determine how synapses adapt and maladapt to cardiovascular risks and cellular pathologies related to Alzheimer’s disease.

Along with cognition, dementia can also affect mood. Indeed, major depressive disorder and Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to mutually increase the risk for each other. Through on-going collaborations at Columbia University, RFMH, and NYSPI, we have used electrophysiology to investigate the synaptic mechanisms underlying stress resilience since it is an adaptive strategy that could protect against neuropsychiatric diseases.

Education, Training & Credentials

Educational Background

Postdoc, Neuroscience, Columbia University Irving Medical Center/RFMH/NYSPI
PhD, Neuroscience, State University of New York at Stony Brook
BS, Psychology, University of the Philippines at Diliman


Digital Bibliography

View My NCBI Bibliography

Additional Publications

Synaptic mechanisms underlying neurogenesis-dependent modulation:

1. Luna, V.M., Anacker, C., Burghardt, N.S., Khandaker, H., Andreu, V., Millette, A., Leary, P., Ravenelle, R., Jimenez, J.C., Mastrodonato, A., Denny, C.A., Fenton, A.A., Scharfman, H.E., and Hen, R. (2019). Adult-born hippocampal neurons bidirectionally modulate entorhinal inputs into the dentate gyrus. Science, 364(6440), 578-583. PMCID: PMC6800071.

2. Anacker, C., Luna, V.M., Stevens, G.S., Millette, A., Shores, R., Jimenez, J.C., Chen, B., and Hen, R. (2018). Hippocampal neurogenesis confers stress resilience by inhibiting the ventral dentate gyrus. Nature, 559(7712), 98-102. PMCID: PMC6118212.

3. Drew, L. J., Kheirbek, M. A., Luna, V. M., Denny, C. A., Cloidt, M. A., Wu, M. V., Jain, S., Scharfman, H. E. & Hen, R. (2016). Activation of local inhibitory circuits in the dentate gyrus by adult-born neurons. Hippocampus. PMCID: PMC4867135.

4. Wu, M. V., Luna, V. M. & Hen, R. (2015). Running rescues a fear-based contextual discrimination deficit in aged mice. Front Syst Neurosci 9, 114. PMID: 26321926; PMCID: PMC4531235.


Mechanisms underlying anxiety and stress resilience:

5. Chen, B.K., Luna, V.M., Shannon, M.E., Hunsberger, H.C., Mastrodonato, A., Stackmann, M., McGowan, J.C., Rubinstenn, G., and Denny, C.A. (2021). Fluoroethylnormemantine, a novel NMDA receptor antagonist, for the prevention and treatment of stress-induced maladaptive behavior. Biological Psychiatry, 90(7), 458-472.

6. Chen, B.K., Luna, V.M., La Gamma, C., Xu, X., Deng, S., Suckow, R., Cooper, T., Shah, A., Brachman, R. Mendez-David, I., David, D.J., Gardier, A., Landry, D., and Denny, C.A. (2020). Sex-specific neurobiological actions of prophylactic (R,S)-ketamine, (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine, and (2S,6S)-hydroxynorketamine. Neuropsychopharmacology, 45(9), 1545-1556. PMCID: PMC7360766.

7. Chen, B.K., Mendez-David, I., Luna, V.M., Faye, C., Gardier A.M., David, D.J., and Denny, C.A. (2019). Prophylactic efficacy of 5-HT4R agonists against stress. Neuropsychopharmacology, 45(4), 542-552. PMCID: PMC6969048

8. Jimenez, J.C., Su, K., Goldberg, A.R., Luna, V.M., Biane, J.S., Ordek, G., Zhou, P., Ong, S.K., Wright, M.A., Zweifel, L., Paninski, L., Hen, R., and Kheirbek, M.A. (2018) Anxiety cells in a hippocampal-hypothalamic circuit. Neuron, 97(3), 670-683. PMCID: PMC5877404


Synaptic transmission in the olfactory cortex:

9. Luna, V. M. & Morozov, A. (2012). Input-specific excitation of olfactory cortex microcircuits. Front Neural Circuits 6, 69. PMCID: PMC3446699.

10. Luna, V. M. & Pettit, D. L. (2010). Asymmetric rostro-caudal inhibition in the primary olfactory cortex. Nat Neurosci 13, 533-535. PMCID: PMC2860678.

11. Luna, V. M. & Schoppa, N. E. (2008). GABAergic circuits control input-spike coupling in the piriform cortex. J Neurosci 28, 8851-8859. PMCID: PMC2606149.


Neuromuscular synapses and gap junctions:

12. Mott, M., Luna, V.M., Park, J.Y., Downes, G.B., Epley, K., and Ono, F. (2017) Expressing acetylcholine receptors after innervation suppresses spontaneous vesicle release and causes muscle fatigue. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 1674. PMCID: PMC5431962.

13. Luna, V. M., Daikoku, E. & Ono, F. (2015). "Slow" skeletal muscles across vertebrate species. Cell Biosci 5, 62. PMCID: PMC4644285.

14. Luna, V. M. & Brehm, P. (2006). An electrically coupled network of skeletal muscle in zebrafish distributes synaptic current. J Gen Physiol 128, 89-102. PMCID: PMC2151551.

15. Luna, V. M., Wang, M., Ono, F., Gleason, M. R., Dallman, J. E., Mandel, G. & Brehm, P. (2004). Persistent electrical coupling and locomotory dysfunction in the zebrafish mutant shocked. J Neurophysiol 92, 2003-2009. PMID: 15201312.