BROCARD Frederic

Prénom : Frederic
Téléphone : 04 91 32 40 29
Fonction : chef d'équipe
Grade : DR2
Bureau : 2.18


Neuroscientist Dr. Brocard attempts to understand mechanisms by which spinal neural networks generate locomotor movements. His recent discoveries pave the way for a new concept in which autorhythmic pacemaker cells are critical in generating the locomotor rhythm. In addition to fundamental investigations, Frédéric Brocard also engages preclinical evaluation of new therapeutic strategies to reduce motor deficits after a spinal cord injury.



Locomotor disorders profoundly impact quality of life of patients with spinal cord injury. Understanding the neuronal networks responsible for locomotion remains a major challenge for neuroscientists and a fundamental prerequisite to overcome motor deficits. Although we still have a limited insight into the way by which cellular and synaptic mechanisms cooperate to generate the locomotor rhythm, our recent investigations support the contribution of autorhythmic pacemaker cells in generating the locomotor rhythm. Our ongoing research address three specific aims.

  • Specific aim 1. Characterize the physiological modulation of pacemaker properties and shed new light on the cellular mechanisms by which the locomotor network can operate at different speed.
  • Specific aim 2. Identify the organization, the maturation and the connections of pacemaker cells with respect to the current knowledge of motor functions.
  • Specific aim 3. Characterize the dysregulation of pacemaker properties and the occurrence of motor deficits.


Spasticity is one of the most common debilitating complications in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) and is primarily attributed to excessive excitability of the spinal cord. Although the pathophysiological mechanisms are quite diverse, alterations in intrinsic motoneuron properties have been postulated to play a central role. In particular, the SCI predisposes motoneurons to express exuberant self-sustained plateau potentials, thereby contributing to uncontrollable muscle spasms. The persistent sodium current (INaP) is known to be one of the key conductances driving motoneuronal plateau potentials. In addition to being increased after SCI, the upregulation of INaP has been assumed to mediate abnormal slow tonic firing in motor units. Whether the INaP receives increased attention as a factor in spasticity, the molecular disturbances responsible for its dysfunction are fully unknown.

To tackle these issues, a multidisciplinary approach is used including genetic tools, electrophysiology (visual patch clamp, voltage sensitive dyes, EMG...), and immunohistochemistry (expression of Nav channels in the spinal cord).


1. VERNEUIL J, BROCARD C, TROUPLIN V, VILLARD L, PEYRONNET-ROUX J, BROCARD F. (2020). M-current works in tandem with the persistent sodium current to set the speed of locomotion. Plos Biology . 2020 Nov 13 :

2. PLANTIER V, SÁNCHEZ-BRUALLA I, NEJADA D, BROCARD C, LIABEUF S, GACKIERE F, BROCARD F (2019). Calpain fosters the hyperexcitability of motoneurons after spinal cord injury and leads to spasticity. Elife. 2019 Dec 9 ;8. pii : e51404. doi : 10.7554/eLife.51404.

3. BROCARD F. New channel lineup in spinal circuits governing locomotion (2019). Current Opinion in Physiology . 2019 April ;8:14-22.

4. BOS R, HARRIS-WARRICK RM, BROCARD C, DEMIANENKO LE, MANUEL M, ZYTNICKI D, KOROGOD SM, BROCARD F (2018). Kv1.2 channels promote nonlinear spiking motoneurons for powering up locomotion. Cell Reports . 2018,

5. PLANTIER V and BROCARD F (2017). Spasticity, a new calpainopathy after a spinal cord injury. Med Sci (Paris) . n° 6-7, vol 33 : 629-36.

6. SANCHEZ BRUALLA I, BOULENGUEZ P, BROCARD C, LIABEUF S, VIALLAT-LIEUTAUD A, NAVARRO X, UDINA E, BROCARD F (2017). Activation of 5-HT2A receptors restores KCC2 function and reduces neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury. Neuroscience . 2017 Aug 23.

7. LIABEUF S, STUHL-GOURMAND L, GACKIÈRE F, MANCUSO R, SANCHEZ BRUALLA I, BROCARD F and VINAY L (2017). Prochlorperazine increases KCC2 function and reduces spasticity after spinal cord injury. Journal of Neurotrauma . 2017 Jul 26.

8. BROCARD C, PLANTIER V, BOULENGUEZ P, LIABEUF S, BOUHADFANE M, VIALLAT-LIEUTAUD A, VINAY L, BROCARD F (2016). Calpain-mediated proteolytic cleavage of sodium channels after spinal cord injury increases the persistent sodium current and contributes to spasticity. Nature Medicine Apr ;22(4):404-11.

9. CAZALS Y, BÉVENGUT M, ZANELLA S, BROCARD F, BARHANIN J, GESTREAU C (2015). KCNK5 channels in cochlear outer sulcus cells are indispensable for the maintenance of hearing. Nature Communications . Nov 9 ;6:8780.

10. BOUHADFANE M, KASZAS A, ROZSA B, HARRIS-WARRICK R, VINAY L, BROCARD F. (2015). Sensitization of lumbar motoneurons by the pain mediator bradykinin. Elife . 2015 Mar 17 ;4.

11. BOUHADFANE M, TAZERART S, MOQRICH A, VINAY L, BROCARD F, (2013).Sodium-mediated plateau potentials in lumbar motoneurons of neonatal rats. J Neurosci . 2013 Sep 25 ;33(39):15626-41.

12. BROCARD F, SHEVTSOVA. N, BOUHADFANE M, TAZERART S, HEINEMANN U, RYBAK I.A, VINAY L. (2013). Activity-dependent changes in extracellular Ca2+ and K+ reveal pacemakers in the spinal locomotor-related network. Neuron . 2013 Mar 20 ;77(6):1047-54.

13. BOS R, BROCARD F, VINAY L. (2011). Primary afferent terminals acting as excitatory interneurons contribute to spontaneous motor activities in the immature spinal cord. J Neurosci. Jul 13 ;31(28):10184-8.

14. BROCARD F, TAZERART S, VINAY L. (2010) Do pacemakers drive the central pattern generator for locomotion in mammals ? Neuroscientist. 2010 Apr ;16(2):139-55.

15. BROCARD F, RYCZKO D, FENELON K, HATEM R, GONZALES D, AUCLAIR F, DUBUC R. (2010) The transformation of a unilateral locomotor command into a symmetrical bilateral activation in the brainstem. J Neurosci. 2010 Jan 13 ;30(2):523-33.

16. TAZERART S, VINAY L, BROCARD F. (2008) The persistent sodium current generates pacemaker activities in the central pattern generator for locomotion and regulates the locomotor rhythm. J Neurosci. Aug 20 ;28(34):8577-89.

17. TAZERART S, VIEMARI JC, DARBON P, VINAY L, BROCARD F. (2007). Contribution of persistent sodium current to locomotor pattern generation in neonatal rats. J Neurophysiol. Aug ;98(2):613-28. Article recommended as reading in Faculty of 1000.

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