2014

Taking Flight Award

Modulation Of GABAergic Transmission And Absence Seizures By Optical Stimulation Of Astrocytes

Catherine Christian, PhD
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
 

Synaptic inhibition between neurons in the thalamic reticular nucleus (nRT) plays a critical role in childhood absence epilepsy. Dr. Christian’s recent work has demonstrated that astrocytes, a type of non-neuronal brain cell, play a necessary role in regulating inhibition in the nRT. This suggests the exciting prospect that modulation of astrocytic function, and thereby of synaptic inhibition, could become a powerful resource in treating seizure disorders. The proposed studies will focus on using newly developed methods to selectively stimulate astrocytes in the nRT using light, and assess the effects of this stimulation on both synaptic inhibition and absence seizures.

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