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Decoding Gut microbiota-modulation of Memory

Project description

The gut microbiome and vagus nerve as modulators of memory

The gut microbiome is critical to health and well-being, linked to the digestive, cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems’ functioning. Imbalance has been associated with depression, anxiety and cognitive dysfunction, including memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. The vagus nerve, part of the parasympathetic nervous system, establishes bidirectional communication between gut microbiota and the brain along the so-called gut-brain axis. The vagus nerve and gut microbiota could thus be important in treatments to partially restore memory function. With the support of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions programme, the REMEMBER project will investigate the connection between the microbiome, vagus nerve and memory via state of-the-art viral tracing, behavioural tests, microbiome-vagal manipulations and in vivo electrophysiology.

Objective

Our memory is essential for all aspects of our lives. Memories are encoded in the brain by coordinated neuronal activity in the hippocampus. Disruption of this coordination is associated with neurological/psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia affecting spatial and social memories. Emerging data suggests that the gut microbiota can influence the brain through the vagus nerve with involvements in an increasing number of mental health conditions including those impairing memory. However, these associations are correlative and the precise microbiota-vagal effects on brain physiology remain to be defined. Can we decode hippocampal neuronal mechanisms contributing to gut-vagal modulation of memory? REMEMBER aims to establish an integrative functional definition of two distinct and specialised neuronal pathways arising from the vagus-innervated brainstem which are likely to carry microbiota-initiated information into the hippocampus. By combining state-of-the-art viral tracing, behavioural tests, microbiome-vagal manipulations and in vivo electrophysiology, I propose investigations of progressive levels of biological complexity. REMEMBER will bring new insights into the regulation of memory and may pave the way for transformative microbiota- and vagus-oriented treatments for people living with memory decline, addressing a public health priority. I will design an open sharing strategy for the dissemination and communication of my findings to maximise their impact. This fellowship will provide me with interdisciplinary expertise by complementing my knowledge in neuroscience with microbiome research and it will support my transition to independence at APC Microbiome Ireland. I will grow my network and gain valuable international training and intersectoral exposure through secondments at Icahn School of Medicine in New York and The Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle strengthening my competitiveness for independent group leader positions.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK - NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, CORK
Net EU contribution
€ 215 534,40
Address
WESTERN ROAD
T12 YN60 Cork
Ireland

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Region
Ireland Southern South-East
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
No data

Partners (2)