Kim Nixon

Kim Nixon

Associate Professor at University of Kentucky; Scientific Consultant

Lexington, Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky Area)

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Kim Nixon's Overview

  • Keller High School

500+ connections


Kim Nixon's Summary

Dr. Nixon runs an NIH-funded laboratory studying how alcohol results in neurodegeneration via effects on neural stem cells. The Nixon Lab uses cutting edge neuroanatomical, biochemical and behavioral techniques to identify the mechanism by which alcohol not only inhibits neural stem cell proliferation and adult neurogenesis but also how it promotes neurogenesis in abstinence.

Dr. Nixon is also the PI and co-Director of UK STAR - Summer Training in Alcohol Research. Know a talented undergraduate who wants to explore a career in science? Spend the summer working with one of 11 federally-funded PIs ($4000 fellowship). Email UK.STAR at for info about 2015.

Specialties: Scientific consulting in neuroscience, substance abuse, neural stem cells, microscopy and drug discovery. Drug discovery interests and capabilities in target identification, neurotoxicology, and in vivo testing of novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative disease.

Kim Nixon's Experience

Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

University of Kentucky

2005Present (9 years)

Kim Nixon's Organizations

  • Research Society on Alcoholism

    Board of Directors (2011 - 2015)
    • 1996 to Present
  • Society for Neuroscience

    • 1994 to Present

Kim Nixon's Publications

  • Ectopic hippocampal neurogenesis in adolescent male rats following alcohol dependence.

    • Addiction Biology
    • 2013
    Authors: Kim Nixon, Justin McClain, Stephanie Morris, S. Alex Marshall

    The adolescent hippocampus is highly vulnerable to alcohol-induced damage, which could contribute to their increased susceptibility to alcohol use disorder. Altered adult hippocampal neurogenesis represents one potential mechanism by which alcohol (ethanol) affects hippocampal function. Based on the vulnerability of the adolescent hippocampus to alcohol-induced damage, and prior reports of long-term alcohol-induced effects on adult neurogenesis, we predicted adverse effects on adult neurogenesis in the adolescent brain following abstinence from alcohol dependence. Thus, we examined neurogenesis in adolescent male rats during abstinence following a 4-day binge model of alcohol dependence. Bromodeoxyuridine and Ki67 immunohistochemistry revealed a 2.2-fold increase in subgranular zone cell proliferation after 7 days of abstinence. Increased proliferation was followed by a 75% increase in doublecortin expression and a 56% increase in surviving bromodeoxyuridine-labeled cells 14 and 35 days post-ethanol exposure, respectively. The majority of newborn cells in ethanol and control groups co-localized with NeuN, indicating a neuronal phenotype and therefore a 1.6-fold increase in hippocampal neurogenesis during abstinence. Although these results mirror the magnitude of reactive neurogenesis described in adult rat studies, ectopic bromodeoxyuridine and doublecortin positive cells were detected in the molecular layer and hilus of adolescent rats displaying severe withdrawal symptoms, an effect that has not been described in adults. The presence of ectopic neuroblasts suggests that a potential defect exists in the functional incorporation of new neurons into the existing hippocampal circuitry for a subset of rats. Age-related differences in functional incorporation could contribute to the increased vulnerability of the adolescent hippocampus to ethanol.

  • Temporally specific burst in cell proliferation increases hippocampal neurogenesis in protracted abstinence from alcohol

    • The Journal of Neuroscience
    • October 27, 2004

    Adult neurogenesis is a newly considered form of plasticity that could contribute to brain dysfunction in psychiatric disease. Chronic alcoholism, a disease affecting over 8% of the adult population, produces cognitive impairments and decreased brain volumes, both of which are partially reversed during abstinence. Clinical data and animal models implicate the hippocampus, a region important in learning and memory. In a model of alcohol dependence (chronic binge exposure for 4 d), we show that adult neurogenesis is inhibited during dependence with a pronounced increase in new hippocampal neuron formation after weeks of abstinence. This increase is attributable to a temporally and regionally specific fourfold increase in cell proliferation at day 7 of abstinence, with a majority of those cells surviving and differentiating at percentages similar to controls, effects that doubled the formation of new neurons. Although increases in cell proliferation correlated with alcohol withdrawal severity, proliferation remained increased when diazepam (10 mg/kg) was used to reduce withdrawal severity. Indeed, those animals with little withdrawal activity still show a twofold burst in cell proliferation at day 7 of abstinence. Thus, alcohol dependence and recovery from dependence continues to alter hippocampal plasticity during abstinence. Because neurogenesis may contribute to hippocampal function and/or learning, memory, and mood, compensatory neurogenesis and the return of normal neurogenesis may also have an impact on hippocampal structure and function. For the first time, these data provide a neurobiological mechanism that may underlie the return of human cognitive function and brain volume associated with recovery from addiction.

  • Upregulated vimentin suggests new areas of neurodegeneration in a model of an alcohol use disorder.

    • Neuroscience
    • December 1, 2011
    Authors: Kim Nixon, Matthew Kelso, Daniel Liput, David Eaves

    Excessive alcohol intake, characteristic of an alcohol use disorder (AUD), results in neurodegeneration as well as cognitive deficits that may recover in abstinence. Neurodegeneration in psychiatric disorders such as AUDs is due to various effects on tissue integrity. Several groups report that alcohol-induced neurodegeneration and recovery include a role for adult neurogenesis. Therefore, the initial purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of alcohol on the temporal profile of neural progenitor cells using the radial glia marker, vimentin, in a model of an AUD. However, striking vimentin expression throughout corticolimbic regions led, instead, to the discovery of a significant gliosis response in this model. Adult male rats were subjected to a 4-day binge model of an AUD and brains harvested for immunohistochemistry at 0, 2, 4, 7, 14, and 28 days following the last dose of ethanol. A prominent increase in vimentin immunoreactivity was apparent at 4 and 7 days post binge that returned to control levels by 14 days in the corticolimbic regions examined. Vimentin-positive cells co-labeled with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), which suggested that cells were reactive astrocytes. A second experiment supported that increased vimentin was not primarily due to alcohol withdrawal seizures and is more likely due to alcohol-induced cell death. As this gliosis was remarkably distinct in regions where cell death had not previously been reported in this model, adjacent tissue sections were processed for FluoroJade B staining for cell death. FluoroJade B-positive cells were evident immediately following the last ethanol dose as expected, but were significantly elevated in the hippocampal dentate gyrus and CA3 regions and corticolimbic regions from 2 to 7 days post binge. Intriguingly, vimentin labeling of astrogliosis is more widespread than FluoroJade B labeling of cell death, which suggests that 4-day binge ethanol consumption is more damaging than originally

  • Alcohol and adult hippocampal neurogenesis: Promiscuous drug, wanton effects.

    • Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
    • June 2014

    Adult neurogenesis is now widely accepted as an important contributor to hippocampal integrity and function but also dysfunction when adult neurogenesis is affected in neuropsychiatric diseases such as alcohol use disorders. Excessive alcohol consumption, the defining characteristic of alcohol use disorders, results in a variety of cognitive and behavioral impairments related wholly or in part to hippocampal structure and function. Recent preclinical work has shown that adult neurogenesis may be one route by which alcohol produces hippocampal neuropathology. Alcohol is a pharmacologically promiscuous drug capable of interfering with adult neurogenesis through multiple mechanisms. This review will discuss the primary mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced changes in adult hippocampal neurogenesis including alcohol's effects on neurotransmitters, CREB and its downstream effectors, and the neurogenic niche.

  • Neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in adult rat brain from binge ethanol exposure: abrogation by docosahexaenoic acid.

    • PLoS One
    • July 16, 2014
    Authors: Kim Nixon, Nuzhath Tajuddin, Kwan-Hoon Moon, S. Alex Marshall, Edward J Neafsey, Hee-Yong Kim, Michael A. Collins

    We report here that neurotoxic binge ethanol exposure produces comparable significant effects in vivo and in vitro on adult rat brain levels of AQP4 as well as neuroinflammation-linked enzymes: key phospholipase A2 (PLA2) family members and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1). In adult male rats, repetitive ethanol intoxication significantly increased AQP4, Ca+2-dependent PLA2 GIVA (cPLA2), phospho-cPLA2 GIVA (p-cPLA2), secretory PLA2 GIIA (sPLA2) and PARP-1 in regions incurring extensive neurodegeneration in this model—hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and olfactory bulb—but not in two regions typically lacking neurodamage, frontal cortex and cerebellum. Also, ethanol reduced hippocampal Ca+2-independent PLA2 GVIA (iPLA2) levels and increased brain “oxidative stress footprints” (4-hydroxynonenal-adducted proteins). For in vitro studies, organotypic cultures of rat hippocampal-entorhinocortical slices of adult age (~60 d) were ethanol-binged (100 mM or ~450 mg/dl) for 4 d, which augments AQP4 and causes neurodegeneration (Collins et al. 2013). Reproducing the in vivo results, cPLA2, p-cPLA2, sPLA2 and PARP-1 were significantly elevated while iPLA2 was decreased. Furthermore, supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3), known to quell AQP4 and neurodegeneration in ethanol-treated slices, blocked PARP-1 and PLA2 changes while counteracting endogenous DHA reduction and increases in oxidative stress footprints (3-nitrotyrosinated proteins). Notably, the PARP-1 inhibitor PJ-34 suppressed binge ethanol-dependent neurodegeneration, indicating PARP upstream involvement. The results with corresponding models support involvement of AQP4- and PLA2-associated neuroinflammatory pro-oxidative pathways in the neurodamage, with potential regulation by PARP-1 as well. Furthermore, DHA emerges as an effective inhibitor of these binge ethanol-dependent neuroinflammatory pathways as well as associated neurodegeneration in adult-age brain.

Kim Nixon's Skills & Expertise

  1. Biochemistry
  2. Drug Discovery
  3. Research
  4. In Vivo
  5. Neuroscience
  6. University Teaching
  7. Microscopy
  8. Statistics
  9. Western Blotting
  10. Stem Cells
  11. Lifesciences
  12. Neurodegeneration
  13. Higher Education
  14. Experimental Design
  15. Pharmacology
  16. Immunohistochemistry
  17. Molecular Biology
  18. Laboratory
  19. Neuroimmunology
  20. Cell Biology
  21. Animal Models
  22. Fluorescence Microscopy
  23. Confocal Microscopy
  24. Physiology

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Kim Nixon's Education

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