UPCOMING SEMINARS

CAMILLA NORD
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
CAMBRIDGE, UK
  • Twitter

The translational potential of body-brain interactions for mental health treatment

17th May
2021

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Bodily experience plays a role in the genesis of symptoms across many mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and mood disorders. Targeting bodily signals or their interpretation could represent a distinct avenue for treatment. But how should novel treatments be developed? This talk will take two approaches to developing treatments for brain-body interactions in mental health disorders. First, I will discuss an experimental medicine study in health controls (Nord & Dalmaijer et al, 2021 Current Biology). In this study, we used a pharmacological manipulation of gastric state (the anti-emetic domperidone), and measured its effects on an implicit measure of disgust avoidance, oculomotor behaviour. We found domperidone weakened the ‘immunity’ of disgust avoidance to habituation after prolonged, incentivised exposure. This could have translational implications for future therapeutic interventions. Next, I will discuss a neuroimaging analysis of existing interoceptive datasets in diverse psychiatric populations (Nord et al., In Press, The American Journal of Psychiatry). Using activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis, we discovered that a common neural locus underpins transdiagnostic interoceptive differences (across patients with bipolar disorder, anxiety, major depression, anorexia, and schizophrenia). This locus could represent a putative neural target for intervention development. I will end with a conceptual model of mental health treatment development, emphasising the key role that cognitive neuroscience could play in forward- and back-translational science.

MANUEL TENA-SEMPERE
IMIBIC, UNIVERSITY OF CÓRDOBA
CÓRDOBA, SPAIN
  • Twitter

Brain-body interactions in the metabolic/nutritional control of 
puberty: Neuropeptide pathways and central energy sensors.

31st May
2021

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Puberty is a brain-driven phenomenon, which is under the control of sophisticated regulatory networks that integrate a large number of endogenous and environmental signals, including metabolic and nutritional cues. Puberty onset is tightly bound to the state of body energy reserves, and deregulation of energy/metabolic homeostasis is often associated with alterations in the timing of puberty. However, despite recent progress in the field, our knowledge of the specific molecular mechanisms and pathways whereby our brain decode metabolic information to modulate puberty onset remains fragmentary and incomplete.
Compelling evidence, gathered over the last fifteen years, supports an essential role of hypothalamic neurons producing kisspeptins, encoded by Kiss1, in the neuroendocrine control of puberty. Kiss1 neurons are major components of the hypothalamic GnRH pulse generator, whose full activation is mandatory pubertal onset. Kiss1 neurons seemingly participate in transmitting the regulatory actions of metabolic cues on pubertal maturation. However, the modulatory influence of metabolic signals (e.g., leptin) on Kiss1 neurons might be predominantly indirect and likely involves also the interaction with other transmitters and neuronal populations.
In my presentation, I will review herein recent work of our group, using preclinical models, addressing the molecular mechanisms whereby Kiss1 neurons are modulated by metabolic signals, and thereby contribute to the nutritional control of puberty. In this context, the putative roles of the energy/metabolic sensors, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and SIRT1, in the metabolic control of Kiss1 neurons and puberty will be discussed. In addition, I will summarize recent findings from our team pointing out a role of central de novo ceramide signaling in mediating the impact of obesity of (earlier) puberty onset, via non-canonical, kisspeptin-related pathways. These findings are posed of translational interest, as perturbations of these molecular pathways could contribute to the alterations of pubertal timing linked to conditions of metabolic stress in humans, ranging from malnutrition to obesity, and might become druggable targets for better management of pubertal disorders.

KEVIN MANN
STANFORD UNIVERSITY
STANFORD, CA, USA
  • Twitter

Title TBA

7th June
2021

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

CLEMENCE BLOUET
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
INSTITUTE OF METABOLIC SCIENCE, CAMBRIDGE, UK
  • Twitter

Title TBC

14th June
2021

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

BETH STEVENS
BOSTON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
BOSTON, MA, USA
  • Twitter

Title TBC

21st June
2021

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

SIR STEPHEN O'RAHILLY
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
INSTITUTE OF METABOLIC SCIENCE, CAMBRIDGE, UK
  • Twitter

Title TBC

28th June
2021

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

SEBASTIEN BOURET
INSERM
LILLE, FRANCE
  • Twitter

Title TBC

5th July
2021

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

AMITA SEHGAL
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA
  • Twitter

Title TBC

12th July
2021

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

PAST SEMINARS

liberles_steve_18.jpg
STEPHEN LIBERLES
HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
BOSTON, MA, USA
  • Twitter

Vagal sensory neurons that guard the airways.

22nd June
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

The vagus nerve contains a diversity of sensory neurons that detect peripheral stimuli such as blood pressure changes at the aortic arch, lung expansion during breathing, meal-induced stomach distension, and chemotherapeutics that induce nausea. Underlying vagal sensory mechanisms are largely unresolved at a molecular level, presenting tremendously important problems in sensory biology. We charted vagal sensory neurons by single cell RNA sequencing, identifying novel cell surface receptors and classifying a staggering diversity of sensory neuron types. We then generated a collection of ires-Cre knock-in mice to target each neuron type, and adapted genetic tools for Cre-based anatomical mapping, in vivo imaging, targeted ablation, and optogenetic control of vagal neuron activity. We found different sensory neuron types that innervate the lung and exert powerful effects on breathing, others that monitor and control the digestive system, and yet others that innervate that innervate the larynx and protect the airways. Together with Ardem Patapoutian, we also identified a critical role for Piezo mechanoreceptors in the sensation of airway stretch, which underlies a classical respiratory reflex termed the Hering-Breuer inspiratory reflex, as well as in the neuronal sensation of blood pressure and the baroreceptor reflex.

  • Twitter
MichalSchwartz.jpg
MICHAL SCHWARTZ
WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
REHOVOT, ISRAEL
  • Twitter

Novel immunotherapy to treat Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia: from curiosity-driven research to prospect of therapy

29th June
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

  • Twitter
MONICA DUS
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
ANN ARBOR, MI, USA
  • Twitter

Epigenetic Reprogramming of Taste by Diet.

20th July
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Diets rich in sugar, salt, and fat alter taste perception and food intake, leading to obesity and metabolic disorders, but the molecular mechanisms through which this occurs are unknown. Here we show that in response to a high sugar diet, the epigenetic regulator Polycomb Repressive Complex 2.1 (PRC2.1) persistently reprograms the sensory neurons of D. melanogaster flies to reduce sweet sensation and promote obesity. In animals fed high sugar, the binding of PRC2.1 to the chromatin of the sweet gustatory neurons is redistributed to repress a developmental transcriptional network that modulates the responsiveness of these cells to sweet stimuli, reducing sweet sensation. Importantly, half of these transcriptional changes persist despite returning the animals to a control diet, causing a permanent decrease in sweet taste. Our results uncover a new epigenetic mechanism that, in response to the dietary environment, regulates neural plasticity and feeding behavior to promote obesity.

  • Twitter
STEPHEN J. SIMPSON
CHARLES PERKINS CENTRE
UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
  • Twitter

Towards resolving the Protein Paradox in longevity and late-life health

7th Sept
2020

10.00 UK

05.00 Eastern

Reducing protein intake (and that of key amino acids) extends lifespan, especially during mid-life and early late-life. Yet, due to a powerful protein appetite, reducing protein in the diet leads to increased food intake, promoting obesity – which shortens lifespan. That is the protein paradox. In the talk I will bring together pieces of the jigsaw, including: specific nutrient appetites, protein leverage, macronutrient interactions on appetite and ageing, the role of branched-chain amino acids and FGF-21, and then I will conclude by showing how these pieces fit together and play out in the modern industrialised food environment to result in the global pandemic of obesity and metabolic disease.

  • Twitter
IRENE MIGUEL-ALIAGA
IMPERIAL COLLEGE
LONDON, UK
  • Twitter

Sex, guts and babies: the plasticity of the adult intestine and its neurons

14th Sept
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Internal organs constantly exchange signals, and can respond with striking anatomical and functional transformations, even in fully developed organisms. We are exploring the mechanisms that drive and sustain such plasticity using the intestine and its neurons as experimental systems. I will present some of our recent work, which has characterised the enteric nervous system of Drosophila, and has explored its physiological plasticity as well as that of the intestine itself. This work has uncovered unexpected sexual dimorphisms, intestinal contributions to reproductive success and metabolic crosstalk between the gut and the brain. Interestingly, this crosstalk appears to be spatially constrained by the three dimensional arrangement of viscera, revealing a previously unrecognised layer of inter-organ signalling regulation. I may also describe our attempts to explore how broadly applicable our findings may be using mammalian systems.

  • Twitter
ISAAC CHIU
HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
BOSTON, MA, USA
  • Twitter

Neuro-immune interactions in pain and host defence

21st Sept
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

The Chiu laboratory focuses on neuro-immune interactions in pain, itch, and tissue inflammation. Dr. Chiu’s research has uncovered molecular interactions between the nervous system, the immune system and microbes that modulates host defense. He has found that sensory neurons can directly detect bacterial pathogens and their toxins to produce pain. Neurons in turn release neuropeptides that modulate immune cells in host defense. These interactions occur at major tissue barriers in the body including the gut, skin and lungs. In this talk, he will discuss these major neuro-immune interactions and how understanding them could lead to novel approaches to treat pain or inflammation.

  • Twitter
STEFANIE SCHIRMEIER
UNIVERSITY OF MÜNSTER
MÜNSTER, GERMANY
  • Twitter

Glia-neuron metabolic interactions in Drosophila

28th Sept
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

To function properly, the nervous system consumes vast amounts of energy, which is mostly provided by carbohydrate metabolism. Neurons are very sensitive to changes in the extracellular fluid surrounding them, which necessitated shielding of the nervous system from fluctuating solute concentrations in circulation. This is achieved by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) that prevents paracellular diffusion of solutes into the nervous system. This in turn also means that all nutrients that are needed e.g. for sufficient energy supply need to be transported over the BBB. We use Drosophila as a model system to better understand the metabolic homeostasis in the central nervous system.

Glial cells play essential roles in both nutrient uptake and neural energy metabolism. Carbohydrate transport over the glial BBB is well-regulated and can be adapted to changes in carbohydrate availability. Furthermore, Drosophila glial cell are highly glycolytic cells that support the rather oxidative metabolism of neurons. Upon perturbations of carbohydrate metabolism, the glial cells prove to be metabolically very flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances. I will summarize what we know about carbohydrate transport at the Drosophila BBB and about the metabolic coupling between neurons and glial cells. Our data shows that many basic features of neural metabolism are well conserved between the fly and mammals.

  • Twitter
JONATHAN KIPNIS
WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
ST LOUIS, MO, USA
  • Twitter

Meningeal lymphatics and peripheral immunity in brain function and dysfunction

5th Oct
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Immune cells and their derived molecules have major impact on brain function. Mice deficient in adaptive immunity have impaired cognitive and social function compared to that of wild-type mice. Importantly, replenishment of the T cell compartment in immune deficient mice restored proper brain function. Despite the robust influence on brain function, T cells are not found within the brain parenchyma, a fact that only adds more mystery into these enigmatic interactions between T cells and the brain. Our results suggest that meningeal space, surrounding the brain, is the site where CNS-associated immune activity takes place. We have recently discovered a presence of meningeal lymphatic vessels that drain CNS molecules and immune cells to the deep cervical lymph nodes. This communication between the CNS and the peripheral immunity is playing a key role in neurophysiology and in several CNS disorders. Interestingly, meningeal lymphatics are impaired in aging and their dysfunction may be related to age-related cognitive decline as well as to Alzheimer’s pathology. In addition to providing new insights into age-related disorders, meningeal lymphatics may also serve as a novel therapeutic target for these diseases and are worth of in-depth mechanistic exploration.

  • Twitter
BRAD DICKERSON
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
CHAPEL HILL, NC, USA
  • Twitter

An evolutionarily conserved hindwing circuit mediates Drosophila flight control

12th Oct
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

My research at the interface of neurobiology, biomechanics, and behavior seeks to understand how the timing precision of sensory input structures locomotor output. My lab studies the flight behavior of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, combining powerful genetic tools available for labeling and manipulating neural circuits with cutting-edge imaging in awake, behaving animals. This work has the potential to fundamentally reshape understanding of the evolution of insect flight, as well as highlight the tremendous importance of timing in the context of locomotion.Timing is crucial to the nervous system. The ability to rapidly detect and process subtle disturbances in the environment determines whether an animal can attain its next meal or successfully navigate complex, unpredictable terrain. While previous work on various animals has made tremendous strides uncovering the specialized neural circuits used to resolve timing differences with sub-microsecond resolution, it has focused on the detection of timing differences in sensory systems. Understanding of how the timing of motor output is structured by precise sensory input remains poor. My research focuses on an organ unique to fruit flies, called the haltere, that serves as a bridge for detecting and acting on subtle timing differences, helping flies execute rapid maneuvers. Understanding how this relatively simple insect canperform such impressive aerial feats demands an integrative approach that combines physics, muscle mechanics, neuroscience, and behavior. This unique, powerful approach will reveal the general principles that govern sensorimotor processing.

  • Twitter
DANIEL MUCIDA
THE ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY
NEW YORK, NY, USA
  • Twitter

Neuro-immune interactions in the gut

19th Oct
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

  • Twitter
MICHAEL O'DONNELL
YALE UNIVERSITY
NEW HAVEN, CT, USA
  • Twitter

Modulation of C. elegans behavior by gut microbes

26th Oct
2020

15.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

We are interested in understanding how microbes impact the behavior of host animals. Animal nervous systems likely evolved in environments richly surrounded by microbes, yet the impact of bacteria on nervous system function has been relatively under-studied. A challenge has been to identify systems in which both host and microbe are amenable to genetic manipulation, and which enable high-throughput behavioral screening in response to defined and naturalistic conditions. To accomplish these goals, we use an animal host — the roundworm C. elegans, which feeds on bacteria — in combination with its natural gut microbiome to identify inter-organismal signals driving host-microbe interactions and decision-making. C. elegans has some of the most extensive molecular, neurobiological and genetic tools of any multicellular eukaryote, and, coupled with the ease of gnotobiotic culture in these worms, represents a highly attractive system in which to study microbial influence on host behavior. Using this system, we discovered that commensal bacterial metabolites directly modulate nervous system function of their host. Beneficial gut microbes of the genus Providencia produce the neuromodulator tyramine in the C. elegans intestine. Using a combination of behavioral analysis, neurogenetics, metabolomics and bacterial genetics we established that bacterially produced tyramine is converted to octopamine in C. elegans, which acts directly in sensory neurons to reduce odor aversion and increase sensory preference for Providencia. We think that this type of sensory modulation may increase association of C. elegans with these microbes, increasing availability of this nutrient-rich food source for the worm and its progeny, while facilitating dispersal of the bacteria.

  • Twitter
YOAV LIVNEH
WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
REHOVOT, ISRAEL
  • Twitter

Cortical estimation of current and future bodily states

2nd Nov
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Interoception, the sense of internal bodily signals, is essential for physiological homeostasis, cognition, and emotions. Human neuroimaging studies suggest insular cortex plays a central role in interoception, yet the cellular and circuit mechanisms of its involvement remain unclear. We developed a microprism-based cellular imaging approach to monitor insular cortex activity in behaving mice across different physiological need states. We combine this imaging approach with manipulations of peripheral physiology, circuit-mapping, cell type-specific and circuit-specific manipulation approaches to investigate the underlying circuit mechanisms. I will present our recent data investigating insular cortex activity during two physiological need states – hunger and thirst. These were induced naturally by caloric/fluid deficiency, or artificially by activation of specific hypothalamic “hunger neurons” and “thirst neurons”. We found that insular cortex ongoing activity faithfully represents current physiological state, independently of behavior or arousal levels. In contrast, transient responses to learned food- or water-predicting cues reflect a population-level “simulation” of future predicted satiety. Together with additional circuit-mapping and manipulation experiments, our findings suggest that insular cortex integrates visceral-sensory inputs regarding current physiological state with hypothalamus-gated amygdala inputs signaling availability of food/water. This way, insular cortex computes a prediction of future physiological state that can be used to guide behavioral choice.

  • Twitter
PIERRE LÉOPOLD
INSTITUT CURIE
PARIS, FRANCE
  • Twitter

Adjusting organ size during Drosophila development:
how and why?

9th Nov
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Body and organ size are intrinsic properties of living organisms and are intimately linked to the developmental program to produce fit individuals with proper proportions. An aspect of growth control and size determination has emerged recently with the re-evaluation of classical studies on transplantation and tissue regeneration, raising questions about the determination of final tissue size, the cessation of growth and the coupling between tissue growth and the developmental program. Using the Drosophila model, we identified a neural circuitry that is required for inducing a developmental delay in conditions of tissue growth impairment, whereby the hormone Dilp8 delays maturation by acting on its receptor Lgr3 in specific brain neurons, preventing the production of the steroid hormone ecdysone. Interestingly, animals lacking Dilp8 show increased developmental noise, characterized by strong intra- and inter-individual variations in organ size. I will present our recent data addressing the mechanisms of actions of this novel hormonal circuit controlling both the coupling between organ growth and developmental time, as well as the determination of accurate final organ size.

  • Twitter
LISA BEUTLER
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
CHICAGO, IL, USA
  • Twitter

Long-term effects of diet-induced obesity on gut-brain communication

23rd Nov
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Rapid communication between the gut and the brain about recently consumed nutrients is critical for regulating food intake and maintaining energy homeostasis. We have shown that the infusion of nutrients directly into the gastrointestinal tract rapidly inhibits hunger-promoting AgRP neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus and suppresses subsequent feeding. The mechanism of this inhibition appears to be dependent upon macronutrient content, and can be recapitulated by a several hormones secreted in the gut in response to nutrient ingestion. In high-fat diet-induced obese mice, the response of AgRP neurons to nutrient-related stimuli are broadly attenuated. This attenuation is largely irreversible following weight loss and may represent a mechanism underlying difficulty with weight loss and propensity for weight regain in obesity.

  • Twitter
LISA STOWERS
SCRIPPS RESEARCH
SAN DIEGO, CA, USA
  • Twitter

Leveraging olfaction to understand how the brain and the body generate social behavior

30th Nov
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Courtship behavior is an innate model for many types of brain computations including sensory detection, learning and memory, and internal state modulation. Despite the robustness of the behavior, we have little understanding of the underlying neural circuits and mechanisms. The Stowers’ lab is leveraging the ability of specialized olfactory cues, pheromones, to specifically activate and therefore identify and study courtship circuits in the mouse. We are interested in identifying general circuit principles (specific brain nodes and information flow) that are common to all individuals, in order to additionally study how experience, gender, age, and internal state modulate and personalize behavior. We are solving two parallel sensory to motor courtship circuits, that promote social vocal calling and scent marking, to study information processing of behavior as a complete unit instead of restricting focus to a single brain region. We expect comparing and contrasting the coding logic of two courtship motor behaviors will begin to shed light on general principles of how the brain senses context, weighs experience and responds to internal state to ultimately decide appropriate action.

  • Twitter
DIEGO V. BOHORQUEZ
DUKE UNIVERSITY
DURHAM, NC, USA
  • Twitter

A gut choice

7th Dec
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

I am a neuroscientist recognized for the discovery of a neural circuit that serves as the basis of gut brain sensory transduction. At Duke University, I lead a research team built with the vision to treat the brain from the gut. Our mission is to dissect gut-brain circuits underlying behaviors to improve health (www.gutbrains.com). Beyond the laboratory, in 2015, I founded Gastronauts - a venue to disseminate knowledge on gut brain matters (www.thinkgastronauts.com).

  • Twitter
ELAINE HSIAO
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA,
LOS ANGELES, CA, USA
  • Twitter

Interactions between the microbiome and nervous system during early development

10th Dec
2020

15.00 UK

10.00 Eastern

Elaine Hsiao is De Logi Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at UCLA, where she leads a lab studying interactions between the gut microbiome, brain and behavior. Their research identified roles for the gut microbiome in modulating immune dysregulation and social behavior, regulating intestinal motility by controlling serotonin biosynthesis, and mediating the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet.

  • Twitter
GÉRARD KARSENTY
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
NEW YORK, NY, USA
  • Twitter

Blurring the boundaries between neuroscience and organismal physiology

14th Dec
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Work in my laboratory is based on the assumptions that we do not know yet how all physiological functions are regulated and that mouse genetics by allowing to identify novel inter-organ communications is the most efficient ways to identify novel regulation of physiological functions. We test these two contention through the study of bone which is the organ my lab has studied since its inception. Based on precise cell biological and clinical reasons that will be presented during the seminar we hypothesized that bone should be a regulator of energy metabolism and reproduction and identified a bone-derived hormone termed osteocalcin that is responsible of these regulatory events. The study of this hormone revealed that in addition to its predicted functions it also regulates brain size, hippocampus development, prevents anxiety and depression and favors spatial learning and memory by signaling through a specific receptor we characterized. As will be presented, we elucidated some of the molecular events accounting for the influence of osteocalcin on brain and showed that maternal osteocalcin is the pool of this hormone that affects brain development. Subsequently and looking at all the physiological functions regulated by osteocalcin, i.e., memory, the ability to exercise, glucose metabolism, the regulation of testosterone biosynthesis, we realized that are all need or regulated in the case of danger. In other words it suggested that osteocalcin is an hormone needed to sense and overcome acute danger. Consonant with this hypothesis we next showed this led us to demonstrate that bone via osteocalcin is needed to mount an acute stress response through molecular and cellular mechanisms that will be presented during the seminar. Overall, an evolutionary appraisal of bone biology, this body of work and experiments ongoing in the lab concur to suggest 1] the appearance of bone during evolution has changed how physiological functions as diverse as memory, the acute stress response but also exercise and glucose metabolism are regulated and 2] identified bone and osteocalcin as its molecular vector, as an organ needed to sense and response to danger.

  • Twitter
RYUSUKE NIWA
UNIVERSITY OF TSUKUBA
TSUKUBA, JAPAN
  • Twitter

Neuroendocrine control of female germline stem cell increase in Drosophila melanogaster

11th Jan
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

The development and maintenance of many tissues are fueled by stem cells. Many studies have addressed how intrinsic factors and local signals from neighboring niche cells maintain stem cell identity and proliferative potential. In contrast, it is poorly understood how stem cell activity is controlled by systemic, tissue-extrinsic signals in response to environmental cues and changes in physiological status. Our laboratory has been focusing on female germline stem cells (fGSCs) in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system and studying neuroendocrine control of fGSC increase. The increase of fGSCs is induced by mating stimuli. We have previously reported that mating-induced fGSC increase is regulated by the ovarian steroid hormone and the enteroendocrine peptide hormone [Ameku & Niwa, PLOS Genetics 2016; Ameku et al. PLOS Biology 2018].

In this presentation, we report our recent finding showing a neuronal mechanism of mating-induced fGSC increase. We first found that the ovarian somatic cell-specific RNAi for Oamb, a G protein-coupled receptor for the neurotransmitter octopamine, failed to induce fGSC proliferation after mating. Both ex vivo and in vivo experiments revealed that octopamine and Oamb positively regulated mating-induced fGSC increase via intracellular Ca 2+ signaling. We also found that a small subset of octopaminergic neurons directly projected to the ovary, and neuronal activity of these neurons was required for mating-induced fGSC increase. This study provides a mechanism describing how the neuronal system controls stem cell behavior through stem cell niche signaling [Yoshinari et al. eLife 2020].

Here I will also present our recent data showing how the neuroendocrine system couples fGSC behavior to multiple environmental cues, such as mating and nutrition.

  • Twitter
KATERINA AKASSOGLOU
GLADSTONE INSTITUTE FOR NEURO-
LOGICAL DISEASE, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA
  • Twitter

Neurovascular Interactions: Mechanisms, Imaging, Therapeutics

25th Jan
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

The communication between the brain, immune and vascular systems is a key contributor to the onset and progression of neurological diseases. Dr. Akassoglou identified the coagulation factor fibrinogen as a blood-derived driver for neuroinflammation and inhibitor of myelin repair in a wide range of neurologic diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and brain trauma. By developing cutting-edge imaging tools to study the neurovascular interface, her lab showed that microglia dynamic brain surveillance maintain neuronal network synchronization within a physiological range preventing hyperexcitability and identified fibrinogen as a new culprit for microglia-mediated oxidative stress-dependent spine elimination and cognitive impairment. By developing Tox-Seq, her lab reported the oxidative stress innate immune cell atlas in neuroinflammation. Her lab developed a first-in-class fibrin-targeting immunotherapy to selectively target inflammatory functions of fibrin without interference with clotting with efficacy in autoimmune- and amyloid-driven neurotoxicity. These findings could be a common thread for the understanding of the etiology, progression, and development of new treatments for neurologic diseases with neuroimmune and cerebrovascular dysfunction.

  • Twitter
ALIA CRUM
STANFORD UNIVERSITY
PALO ALTO, CA, USA
  • Twitter

Harnessing Mindset in 21st Century Healthcare

1st Feb
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Mindsets are core assumptions about the nature and workings of things in the world that orient us to a particular set of attributions, expectations, and goals. Our study of mindsets is, in part, inspired by research on the placebo effect, a robust demonstration of the ability of mindsets, conscious or subconscious, to elicit physiological changes in the body. This talk will explore the role of mindsets in three stages of chronic disease progression: genetic predisposition, behavioral prevention, and clinical treatment. I will discuss the mechanisms through which mindsets influence health as well as the myriad ways that mindsets can be more effectively leveraged to motivate healthy behaviors and improve 21st century healthcare. 

  • Twitter
MICAH ALLEN
AARHUS UNIVERSITY
AARHUS, DENMARK
  • Twitter

Towards better interoceptive biomarkers in computational psychiatry

15th Feb
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Empirical evidence and theoretical models both increasingly emphasize the importance of interoceptive processing in mental health. Indeed, many mood and psychiatric disorders involve disturbed feelings and/or beliefs about the visceral body. However, current methods to measure interoceptive ability are limited in a number of ways, restricting the utility and interpretation of interoceptive biomarkers in psychiatry. I will present some newly developed measures and models which aim to improve our understanding of disordered brain-body interaction in psychiatric illnesses.

  • Twitter
ANNA MOLOFSKY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN
FRANCISCO, CA, USA
  • Twitter

Microglia, memories, and the extracellular space

22nd Feb
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Microglia are the immune cells of the brain, and play increasingly appreciated roles in synapse formation, brain plasticity, and cognition. A growing appreciation that the immune system involved in diseases like schizophrenia, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative diseases has led to renewed interest in how microglia regulate synaptic connectivity. Our group previously identified the IL-1 family cytokine Interleukin-33 (IL-33) as a novel regulator of microglial activation and function. I will discuss a mechanism by which microglia regulate synaptic plasticity and long-term memories by engulfing brain extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. These studies raise the question of how these pathways may be altered or could be modified in the context of disease.

  • Twitter
KARA MARSHALL
SCRIPPS RESEARCH
LA JOLLA, CA, USA
  • Twitter

Under Pressure: the role of PIEZO ion channels in interoception

1st Mar
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

PIEZO ion channels detect force in cellular membranes. They are expressed in a wide variety of mammalian tissues, including the vasculature, lymphatic system, and the nervous system. We have found that PIEZO2 in sensory neurons is required for the mechanical senses of touch and proprioception, but our understanding of internal organ sensing, interoception, is far behind. I will describe our findings on the role of PIEZO ion channels in the lesser-known interoceptive senses in multiple organ systems.

  • Twitter
JOHN F. CRYAN
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK
CORK, IRELAND
  • Twitter

Gut Feelings: The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis Across the Lifespan

22nd Mar
2020

16.00 UK

12.00 Eastern

The microbiota-gut-brain axis is emerging as a research area of increasing interest for those investigating the biological and physiological basis of brain development and behaviour during early life, adolescence & ageing. The routes of communication between the gut and brain include the vagus nerve, the immune system, tryptophan metabolism, via the enteric nervous system or by way of microbial metabolites such as short chain fatty acids. Studies in animal models have shown that the development of an appropriate stress response is dependent on the microbiota. Developmentally, a variety of factors can impact the microbiota in early life including mode of birth delivery, antibiotic exposure, mode of nutritional provision, infection, stress as well as host genetics.   Recently, the gut microbiota has been implicated in regulating the stress response, and social behaviour.  Moreover, fundamental brain processes from adult hippocampal neurogenesis to myelination to microglia activation have been shown to be regulated by the microbiome. Further studies will focus on understanding the mechanisms underlying such brain effects and how they can be exploited by microbiota-targeted interventions including ‘psychobiotics’ and diet.

  • Twitter
DANIELA CARNEVALE
SAPIENZA UNVERSITY OF ROME
ROME, ITALY
  • Twitter

Neuroimmune interactions in Cardiovascular Diseases

29th Mar
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

The nervous system and the immune system share the common ability to exert gatekeeper roles at the interfaces between internal and external environment. Although interaction between these two evolutionarily highly conserved systems is long recognized, the pathophysiological mechanisms regulating their reciprocal crosstalk in cardiovascular diseases became object of investigation only more recently. In the last years, our group elucidated how the autonomic nervous system controls the splenic immunity recruited by hypertensive challenges. In my talk, I will focus on the molecular mechanisms that regulate the neuro-immune crosstalk in hypertension. I will elaborate on the mechanistic insights into this brain-spleen axis led us uncover a new molecular pathway mediating the neuroimmune interaction established by noradrenergic-mediated release in the spleen of placental growth factor (PlGF), an angiogenic growth factor potentially targetable with pharmacological approaches.

  • Twitter
DRAGANA ROGULJA
HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
BOSTON, MA, USA
  • Twitter

Sleep and the gut

5th Apr
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Sleep is generally associated with the brain but poor sleep impacts the entire body - many diseases are caused or exacerbated by sleep loss. Our work is uncovering ways in which sleep and the body interact. We found a special, two-way relationship between sleep and the gut: the gut is uniquely impacted by sleep loss, and it actively controls sleep quality. These findings could help us understand the origins of sleep as well as develop strategies to offset the negative consequences of inadequate sleep.

  • Twitter
DOUGLAS A. BAYLISS
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, USA
  • Twitter

The retrotrapezoid nucleus: an integrative and interoceptive hub in neural control of breathing

12th Apr
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

In this presentation, we will discuss the cellular and molecular properties of the retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN), an integrative and interoceptive control node for the respiratory motor system. We will present the molecular profiling that has allowed definitive identification of a cluster of tonically active neurons that provide a requisite drive to the respiratory central pattern generator (CPG) and other pre-motor neurons. We will discuss the ionic basis for steady pacemaker-like firing, including by a large subthreshold oscillation; and for neuromodulatory influences on RTN activity, including by arousal state-dependent neurotransmitters and CO2/H+. The CO2/H+-dependent modulation of RTN excitability represents the sensory component of a homeostatic system by which the brain regulates breathing to maintain blood gases and tissue pH; it relies on two intrinsic molecular proton detectors, both a proton-activated G protein-coupled receptor (GPR4) and a proton-inhibited background K+ channel (TASK-2). We will also discuss downstream neurotransmitter signaling to the respiratory CPG, focusing especially on a newly-identified peptidergic modulation of the preBötzinger complex that becomes activated following birth and the initiation of air breathing. Finally, we will suggest how the cellular and molecular properties of RTN neurons identified in rodent models may contribute to understanding human respiratory disorders, such as congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  • Twitter
SUPRIYA SRINIVASAN
SCRIPPS RESEARCH
LA JOLLA, CA, USA
  • Twitter

Communication between the brain and the gut:
Learnings from C. elegans

19th Apr
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

.

  • Twitter
CHRISTOPH SCHEIERMANN
LMU MUNICH, GERMANY
UNIVERSITÉ DE GENÈVE, SWITZERLAND
  • Twitter

Sympathetic control of lymph node function

3rd May
2020

16.00 UK

11.00 Eastern

Peripheral nerve injury can cause debilitating disease and immune-cell mediated destruction of the affected nerve. While the focus of most studies has been on the nerve-degenerative response, the effect of loss of innervation on lymph node function is largely unclear. Here, I will discuss the cellular and molecular events caused by local denervation and loss of direct neural input to the popliteal lymph node that induce an inflammatory response and lymph node expansion.

  • Twitter