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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Causes and consequences of microglial priming in the ageing brain

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This study aims to investigate potential pathways that cause functional changes in microglia in the ageing rodent brain.

Systemic infections and the associated inflammatory response communicate with the brain giving rise to fever and behavioural changes. Normally this does not lead to neuronal damage and is important for our ability to fight infections and the maintenance of homeostasis. Systemic infections are a major problem in the aged population, especially among those that suffer from dementia: responses to infection are exaggerated with increased incidence of mood changes and irreversible disturbances of memory.

The brain is an immune privileged site due to the presence of a blood brain barrier (BBB) and unique interactions between neurons and glia. Ageing is associated with various changes in these regulatory pathways: the BBB becomes compromised and microglia adopt an activated morphology with a lower activation threshold. Such changes could be either due to loss of neurons disturbing the unique neuron-glia interaction, making the microglia more susceptible to inflammatory challenges, or due to changes in intrinsic neuronal or microglial functions and phenotype. The latter could be induced by changes in the CNS microenvironment, protein aggregation or repeated low grade systemic challenges.

This study aims to investigate the potential pathways that cause disturbance between neurons and microglia in the (ageing) rodent brain.

Funding:  BBSCR DTA PhD studentship
Funding duration: 2009 - 2013



Related research groups

Biomedical Sciences
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