Dr Susan Deuchars

BSc, Cardiff; PhD 1992, London
Reader in Neuroscience
School of Biomedical Sciences

Contact: Garstang G5.53h, +44(0) 113 34 34249, email address for  

Research Interests

Circuitry and plasticity in the spinal cord

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My laboratory has two main areas of research, with a long term interest in controlling autonomic function extending to potential plasticity in the spinal cord and how we can harness this plasticity to help restore function after injury or in specific pathological conditions. 

Worldwide, hypertension and associated cardiovascular problems are on the increase. One currently untapped avenue for treatment is manipulation of areas of the central nervous system involved in cardiovascular control. Our aim is to further current understanding in these areas to open up the possibility of new interventions. Using a multidisciplinary approach we employ neuroanatomical, electrophysiological and molecular biological methods to investigate properties of neuronal circuits in the CNS that underly control of the cardiovascular system.  

The Group


Current Projects

We have a number of projects that focus on how circuitry underlying sympathetic control is organised and how it may be modulated to help maintain homeostasis.

The laboratory is a friendly and productive group, working together using different approaches to produce our research

The heart and circulatory system are controlled in part by the sympathetic nervous system which can be regulated by the brain as well as feedback from the body. A major level of control occurs in the spinal cord where sympathetic preganglionic neurones (SPNs) contribute to the control of heart rate and blood pressure. These SPNs are influenced by pathways from the brain and body which can act via small local cells (interneurones). To date, very little is known about the characteristics of these interneurones - where they are located, which neurones link to these cells, what neurotransmitters they contain and how they talk to the SPNs. We are therefore interested in determining these characteristics since we believe that these cells play a prominent role in the control of the circulation in both health and disease.

We are also interested in how the sympathetic control changes over the course of the day, in aging or in certain conditions such as heart failure.  We have projects investigating whether it is possible to redress the balance of autonomic control so that the sympathetic branch is maintained at suitable levels to avoid cardiovascular problems. These are carried out on human subjects.

Our interest in spinal cord circuitry also extends to plasticity in the system.  Within the spinal cord there are populations of stem cells and precursors that have potential for generation of new neurones, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes.  We have shown that we can manipulate this potential through a number of different mechanisms and have research projects to further understand these mechansims and their potential in models of multiple sclerosis. 

Our research has received support from the British Heart Foundation, The Wellcome Trust, The Royal Society, BBSRC, The Dunhill Trust and Wings for Life.


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Neurogenesis in the spinal cord
  • Autonomic control and maintaining homeostasis

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Neurogenesis in the spinal cord
  • Autonomic control and maintaining homeostasis

See also:

Modules taught

BMSC1210/SPSC1222 - Biology of the Mind/Neuroscience for Exercise Science
BMSC1213 - Basic Laboratory and Scientific Skills 2
BMSC2118 - Neurobiology
BMSC2118/2123 - Neurobiology and Sensorty and Motor Neuroscience
BMSC2119 - Experimental Skills
BMSC2227 - Experimental Skills in Neuroscience
BMSC2231 - Topics in Neuroscience
BMSC2235 - Molecular Neuroscience
BMSC3139 - Systems Neurophysiology
BMSC3234/35/36 - Advanced Topics II
BMSC3301 - Research Project in Biomedical Sciences
BMSC3399 - Extended Research Project Preparation
BMSC5382M - Extended Research Project
MEDI2201 - Control and Movement

Academic roles

School Director of Research and Innovation

Centre membership: Neuroscience Research at Leeds (NeuR@L)

Group Leader Dr Susan Deuchars  (Reader in Neuroscience)

Circuitry and plasticity in the spinal cord 

Mrs Brenda Frater  (Research Technician)

Dr Varinder Lall  (Research Fellow)


Wafa Aladadi (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Norah Altuwaijri (Primary supervisor) 60% FTE
Nurhafizah Binti Ghani (Primary supervisor) 60% FTE
Pierce Mullen (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Lauryn New (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Nazlahshaniza Shafin (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Catherine Colquhoun (Co-supervisor) 35% FTE
Christian Nathan (Co-supervisor) 30% FTE

Bie P, Brandes RP, Deuchars SA, Eisner DA, Fandrey J, Hecker M, Louch WE, Taira T, Yilmaz B Bringing European physiologists together Acta Physiologica 222, 2018

Gourine AV, Deuchars SA Introduction: Autonomic rhythms in health and disease Experimental Physiology 103 324-325, 2018

Deuchars SA, Lall VK, Clancy J, Mahadi M, Murray A, Peers L, Deuchars J Mechanisms underpinning sympathetic nervous activity and its modulation using transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation Experimental Physiology 103 326-331, 2018
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Lall VK, Bruce G, Voytenko L, Drinkhill M, Wellershaus K, Willecke K, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA Physiologic regulation of heart rate and blood pressure involves connexin 36–containing gap junctions FASEB Journal 31 3966-3977, 2017
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Gotts J, Atkinson L, Yanagawa Y, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA Co-expression of GAD67 and choline acetyltransferase in neurons in the mouse spinal cord: A focus on lamina X Brain Research 1646 570-579, 2016
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Murray AR, Atkinson L, Mahadi MK, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J The strange case of the ear and the heart: The auricular vagus nerve and its influence on cardiac control Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical 199 48-53, 2016
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Murray AR, Clancy JA, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (tVNS) Decreases Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Older Healthy Human Subjects, 2016

Gotts J, Atkinson L, Edwards IJ, Yanagawa Y, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Co-expression of GAD67 and choline acetyltransferase reveals a novel neuronal phenotype in the mouse medulla oblongata Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical 193 22-30, 2015
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Corns LF, Atkinson L, Daniel J, Edwards IJ, New L, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA Cholinergic Enhancement of Cell Proliferation in the Postnatal Neurogenic Niche of the Mammalian Spinal Cord Stem Cells 33 2864-2876, 2015
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Deuchars SA How sympathetic are your spinal cord circuits? Experimental Physiology 100 365-371, 2015
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Deuchars SA, Lall VK Sympathetic Preganglionic Neurons: Properties and Inputs COMPREHENSIVE PHYSIOLOGY 5 829-869, 2015

Deuchars SA How sympathetic are your spinal cord circuits? Experimental Physiology, 2015
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Edwards IJ, Lall VK, Paton JF, Yanagawa Y, Szabo G, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Neck muscle afferents influence oromotor and cardiorespiratory brainstem neural circuits. Brain Structure and Function March 2014, 2014
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Clancy JA, Johnson R, Raw R, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the motor cortex increases sympathetic nerve activity. Brain Stimul 7 97-104, 2014
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Clancy JA, Mary DA, Witte KK, Greenwood JP, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation in Healthy Humans Reduces Sympathetic Nerve Activity Brain Stimulation, 2014
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Corns LF, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA GABAergic responses of mammalian ependymal cells in the central canal neurogenic niche of the postnatal spinal cord NEUROSCIENCE LETTERS 553 57-62, 2013

Edwards IJ, Singh M, Morris S, Osborne L, Le Ruez T, Fuad M, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J A simple method to fluorescently label pericytes in the CNS and skeletal muscle MICROVASCULAR RESEARCH 89 164-168, 2013

Edwards IJ, Bruce G, Lawrenson C, Howe L, Clapcote SJ, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Na+/K+ ATPaseα1 and α3 isoforms are differentially expressed in α- and γ-motoneurons. J Neurosci 33 9913-9919, 2013
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Clancy JA, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J The wonders of the Wanderer Experimental Physiology 98 38-45, 2013
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Lall VK, Dutschmann M, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA The anti-malarial drug Mefloquine disrupts central autonomic and respiratory control in the working heart brainstem preparation of the rat JOURNAL OF BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE 19, 2012

Clancy JA, Deuchars SA Highlights in basic autonomic neurosciences: exploring novel and atypical circuits. Auton Neurosci 171 1-3, 2012

Deuchars SA Spinal Interneurons in the Control of Autonomic Function In Central Regulation of Autonomic Functions, 2011
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Deuchars SA Central Regulation of Autonomic Functions In Central Regulation of Autonomic Functions, 2011
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Clancy JA, Lall VK, Deuchars SA Highlights in basic autonomic neurosciences: new avenues for the study of autonomic function in health and disease. Auton Neurosci 161 49-52, 2011


Dallas ML, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Immunopharmacology: utilizing antibodies as ion channel modulators. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol 3 281-289, 2010
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Wang L, Bruce G, Spary E, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA GABA(B) Mediated Regulation of Sympathetic Preganglionic Neurons: Pre- and Postsynaptic Sites of Action. Front Neurol 1 142-, 2010
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Edwards IJ, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J The intermedius nucleus of the medulla: A potential site for the integration of cervical information and the generation of autonomic responses J CHEM NEUROANAT 38 166-175, 2009

Batten TFC, Deuchars SA How the head rules the heart: The chemical neuroanatomy of the pathways of cardiovascular regulation Introduction J CHEM NEUROANAT 38 143-144, 2009

Wang LH, Spary E, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA Tonic GABAergic Inhibition of Sympathetic Preganglionic Neurons: A Novel Substrate for Sympathetic Control J NEUROSCI 28 12445-12452, 2008

Poole SL, Lewis DI, Deuchars SA Histamine depolarizes neurons in the dorsal vagal complex NEUROSCI LETT 432 19-24, 2008

Dallas ML, Morris NP, Lewis DI, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Voltage-gated potassium currents within the dorsal vagal nucleus: Inhibition by BDS toxin BRAIN RES 1189 51-57, 2008

Dallas ML, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Modulation of potassium ion channel proteins utilising antibodies. Methods Mol Biol 491 247-255, 2008
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Poole SL, Deuchars J, Lewis DI, Deuchars SA Subdivision-specific responses of neurons in the nucleus of the tractus Solitarius to activation of mu-opioid receptors in the rat J NEUROPHYSIOL 98 3060-3071, 2007

Edwards IJ, Dallas ML, Poole SL, Milligan CJ, Yanagawa Y, Szabo G, Erdelyi F, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J The neurochemically diverse intermedius nucleus of the medulla as a source of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic input to the nucleus tractus solitarii J NEUROSCI 27 8324-8333, 2007

Deuchars SA Multi-tasking in the spinal cord - do 'sympathetic' interneurones work harder than we give them credit for? J PHYSIOL-LONDON 580 723-729, 2007

Dallas M, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Immunopharmacology - Antibodies for specific modulation of proteins involved in neuronal function J NEUROSCI METH 146 133-148, 2005

Deuchars SA, Milligan CJ, Stornetta RL, Deuchars J GABAergic neurons in the central region of the spinal cord: A novel substrate for sympathetic inhibition J NEUROSCI 25 1063-1070, 2005

Dallas ML, Atkinson L, Milligan CJ, Morris NP, Lewis DI, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Localization and function of the Kv3.1b subunit in the rat medulla oblongata: focus on the nucleus tractus solitarii J PHYSIOL-LONDON 562 655-672, 2005

Milligan CJ, Buckley NJ, Garret M, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA Evidence for inhibition mediated by coassembly of GABA(A) and GABA(C) receptor subunits in native central neurons J NEUROSCI 24 7241-7250, 2004

Brooke RE, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA Input-specific modulation of neurotransmitter release in the lateral horn of the spinal cord via adenosine receptors J NEUROSCI 24 127-137, 2004

Brooke RE, Atkinson L, Batten TFC, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Association of potassium channel Kv3.4 subunits with pre- and post-synaptic structures in brainstem and spinal cord NEUROSCIENCE 126 1001-1010, 2004

Brooke RE, Pyner S, McLeish P, Buchan S, Deuchars J, Deuchars SA Spinal cord interneurones labelled transneuronally from the adrenal gland by a GFP-herpes virus construct contain the potassium channel subunit Kv3.1b AUTONOMIC NEUROSCIENCE-BASIC&CLINICAL 98 45-50, 2002

Deuchars J, Deuchars SA It takes your breath away - NK1R ablation in the pre-Botzinger complex TRENDS NEUROSCI 24 633-633, 2001

Deuchars SA, Atkinson L, Brooke RE, Musa H, Milligan CJ, Batten TFC, Buckley NJ, Parson SH, Deuchars J Neuronal P2X(7) receptors are targeted to presynaptic terminals in the central and peripheral nervous systems J NEUROSCI 21 7143-7152, 2001

Deuchars SA, Brooke RE, Deuchars J Adenosine A1 receptors reduce release from excitatory but not inhibitory synaptic inputs onto lateral horn neurons J NEUROSCI 21 6308-6320, 2001

Deuchars SA, Brooke RE, Frater B, Deuchars J Properties of interneurones in the intermediolateral cell column of the rat spinal cord: role of the potassium channel subunit Kv3.1. Neuroscience 106 433-446, 2001
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Dallas ML, Deuchars SA, Deuchars J Modulation of Potassium Ion Channel Proteins Utilising Antibodies In Potassium Channels Methods and Protocols
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