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Effects of environmental excitatory amino acids on electrical properties of neurons
Serbia (IFMSA-Serbia) - University of Belgrade, Belgrade
Laboratory for intracellular electrophysiology Institute for pathological physiology
Prof. dr Srdjan Lopicic (Head of the laboratory) Prof. dr. Jelena Nesovic Ostojic (Head of the Institute)
Prof. dr Srdjan Lopicic Assist. dr Svetolik Spasic
Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
Neurodegenerative diseases (NDs) are a group of chronic progressive neurological diseases that include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and others. Causes and mechanisms that lead to the development of NDs are not fully understood and therefore there is no causal therapy or a way to stop the progression of the disease which eventually leads to increasing disability and death. Current opinion is that NDs result from an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Human exposure to excitatory amino acids from the environment (water, soil and food), as well as their potential to cause neurodegeneration, render them a major topic of interest in the field.
What is the aim of the project?
The aim of the research is to determine to what extent and by which mechanisms environmental excitatory amino acids alter the electrical properties of neurons, in order to establish their potential to cause excitotoxicity and other specific and non-specific mechanisms of neurodegeneration.
What techniques and methods are used?
Preparation of invertebrate neurons for use in vitro, classical intracellular electrophysiology (recording of the membrane potential by intracellularly placed microelectrodes), current clamp, use of specific glutamate receptor antagonists.
What is the role of the student?
- The tasks of the student will be performed on his/her own
- The tasks will be done under supervision
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
The student is expected to learn the preparation of free segmental ganglia of the leech to the point of being able to perform it independently. In parallel, the student will be introduced to basic concepts of electrophysiological recording and data analysis. The student should gain a general grasp on these concepts and skills, including basic ideas of electrophysiology, understanding of the methods, operation of the instrumentation used and interpretation of the results. The student will get hands-on experience with use of micromanipulators, amplifiers and recorders but is not expected to master these skills.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
The supervisors will provide one-on-one oral introduction to theoretical concepts of both the methodology and the problem that is researched. This involves a set of initial talks (rather like interactive lectures), which are followed by continuous efforts as informal seminars and discussions throughout the student’s stay in order to consolidate and broaden the knowledge and understanding of the topics presented. Appropriate written materials are also provided. Depending on the student’s interests and the month of stay there are also opportunities for involvement in curricular activities at the Institute.
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- No specific outcome is expected
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
Basic knowledge on the subject of electrical properties of neurons (membrane potential and action potentials).
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
Type of students accepted
This project accepts: - Medical students - Graduated students (less than 6 months) - Pre-Medical students from the American-British system - Students in biomedical fields
- Rodgers KJ. Non-protein amino acids and neurodegeneration: the enemy within. Exp Neurol. 2014;253:192-6.
- Porojan C; Mitrovic SM; Yeo DC; Furey A. Overview of the potent cyanobacterial neurotoxin β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) and its analytical determination. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2016;33:1570-1586.
- Spasic S; Stanojevic M; Nesovic Ostojic J; Kovacevic S; Prostran M; Lopicic S. Extensive depolarization and lack of recovery of leech Retzius neurons caused by 2;4 diaminobutyric acid. Aquat Toxicol. 2018;199:269-275.
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