Our laboratory is interested in understanding key mechanisms leading to neurodegeneration after acute brain injuries: stroke and trauma. We use the cutting-edge technologies to investigate the causes of degeneration in the neuronal circuitry.
Patients with acute brain injury often develop chronic complications including early onset dementia, epilepsy and neuropsychiatric disorders. While these complications are suggestive of continuous alterations in the injured brain circuitry, virtually nothing is known about how the initial injury alters the brain structure and ultimately its function. We recently demonstrated that a focal caspase-3 activation in dendrites leads to deterioration of the spines/synapses at the site of caspase-3 activity, while the rest of neuron remains completely intact. We now investigate whether a similar caspase-3 activity may underlie dendritic spine/synapse degeneration in the secondary phase of acute brain lesion.
One of the main struggles in neuroscience in general is the difficulty to accurately analyze long neuronal connections in the brain. We use a novel approach aiming at mapping acute and chronic changes in the entire brain caused by small, well-defined brain lesions. To this end, we utilize cutting-edge imaging techniques including high-resolution 3D imaging of the entire brain that we recently developed. This is followed by screening for novel molecular players that are altered in chronically affected brain regions to halt secondary neurological problems.
In parallel, we continue to develop and apply new imaging technologies to improve our ability to visualize and analyze anatomical connections in the brain. We believe that a global appreciation of cellular changes in the entire brain should lead to a deeper understanding of the morphological substrate affecting brain function in disease and deliver useful prognostic and therapeutic information.
Contact: Dr. Ali Erturk