Wobbly Lines: the Use of Single Cell Electrophysiology for the Characterization of Brain Function in Health and Disease, from Brain Slices to Stem Cell-Derived Neurons

Guest Speaker:
Dr Francesco Tamagnini (University of Exeter Medical School, UK)
Host:
Dr Wee Kiat Ong (School of Pharmacy, University of Reading Malaysia)
Subject Area:
Pharm-Health
Activity:
Seminar
Date & Time:
Wed, 16. November 2016, 11:00 h - 12:00 h
Venue:
N3.24, University of Reading Malaysia - EduCity@Iskandar​

Abstract
1939 was a problematic year for Europe and the World, as it was the beginning of World War 2. However, presumably while Hitler tanks were crossing the Polish border, another historical event (that would also have changed the World as we knew it) was taking place in a small marine biology laboratory in Plymouth. That year, Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley were sticking electrodes in the giant axon of a squid. They observed, for the first time, that neurons plasma membrane possesses an electrical resting potential at around -65 mV; that if depolarized to a certain threshold value, it could result in action potentials; and that action potentials rely on voltage-dependent generation of inward Na+ and outward K+ currents. Particularly, this latter part was shown by using a technique that they called voltage-clamp. Now, after almost 80 years, we know that single-cell electrophysiological properties are central for brain function. Indeed, modern neuroscience aims to bridge single cell electrophysiology, neural network electrical oscillations and behaviour in healthy and mentally ill individuals. In our laboratory, we focus on characterizing, with a multidisciplinary approach, the functional, electrophysiological correlates of cognitive functions, especially memory, with a particular focus on Alzheimer's disease and dementia. To this end, I spent the last few years carrying out single-neuron, patch-clamp electrophysiological recordings in acute brain slices from mice carrying genes associated to dementia; lately, I also started to carry out the same experiments in 2D and 3D neural networks, obtained by culturing stem cell-derived neurons of human and animal origin. In this talk, I will illustrate that neurons from dementia models show hyperexcitability, as a possible correlate of increased risk of seizure observed in patients with dementia. In addition, I will illustrate my observations on the level of electrophysiological maturation of stem-cell derived neurons, cultured in different conditions.

Photo

Biography
I was born in 1981 in San Marino. After my studies in pharmaceutical biotechnologies at the University of Bologna, in 2008 I started my PhD in neuroscience on synaptic correlates of recognition memory in rodent brain slices, at the same University. In 2010 I moved to the University of Bristol, collaborating with Prof Bashir; in 2012 I started working with Prof Randall on the alteration of single cell electrophysiology in dementia mouse models and on the functional characterization of stem cell-derived neurons. Since 2015 I work as an Alzheimer's Society Junior Research Fellow in Randall's lab, at Exeter University.

  • Admission is free.
  • Light refreshment will be served at 9:30 am.
  • UoRM staff RSVP by responding to the internal event invitation.
  • All are welcome, RSVP by 11 November 2016.

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