This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND grant agreement No 665735.

Bio4Med Research Projects:

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7: Bio4Med - Studies on afferents crucial for locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury

prof. Urszula Slawinska
Foreign partner:
Prof. Larry M. Jordan,University of Manitoba, Canada
In this project we want to clarify the brainstem structures involved in production of locomotion from the MLR, and the interaction of this descending system with intraspinal locomotor neurons and peripheral afferents. The neural system crucial for locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury is under the control of a serotonergic descending pathway, an intraspinal cholinergic propriospinal system, and input from peripheral afferents.Cutaneous afferents from the plantar surface of the paw of cats and rats are necessary for locomotion after spinal cord injury. The intraspinal cholinergic propriospinal system has the capacity to drastically reduce cutaneous input from the limb, thus interfering with locomotor recovery. The balance between these factors determines the success of recovery after injury. Understanding the detailed physiology of these systems is the major goal of this research program. Methodology: behavioral and chronic electrophysiological methods routinely in use in the Slawinska lab., acute electrophysiological investigations to map the field potentials produced in the spinal cord in response to brainstem and peripheral afferent stimulation - methods routinely in use in the Jordan lab., intrathecal and intra-cerebral application of serotonergic and cholinergic drugs – methods used in the Slawinska laboratory as well as the Jordan laboratory, use pharmacogenetic approaches to determine the involvement of specific identified neurons and receptors in the control of locomotion.
• Explanation of role(s) of the various serotonergic nuclei in the production of locomotion using novel methods (pharmacogenetic and optogenetic) to activate and inactivate the MLR and its brainstem targets • Determination of combined effects of brainstem locomotor neurons and cutaneous and proprioceptive afferents using denervation and electrical stimulation approaches. • Morphological verification of the afferent fiber terminations in the spinal cord (anterograde tracing, immunohistochemistry, and electrophysiological recordings of field potentials). • Determine the distribution of serotonergic and cholinergic receptors on the terminals of these afferents and their target cells (intracellular anterograde filling and immunohistochemistry).
Experience with and/or desire to learn electrophysiological and behavioral techniques for experimenting on intact and injured rats and mice. Basic knowledge of neuroscience. Experience with computer techniques for acquisition and analysis of data. Candidates must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Poland for more than 12 months in the past 3 years.