Maria Palu Funded Projects
Understanding the Mechanism Involved in Immune-mediated Cognitive Functioning
Funding Source: UIC College of Nursing, Seth D. Rosen Graduate Student Research Award
Dates: 5/01/10– 4/30/11
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the role of the chemokine CXCL12, an immune system molecule, in cognitive functioning. Quality of life and survival depend upon the healthy cognitive functioning of learning and memory, allowing adaptation to individual experiences and promoting well-being. The implication of understanding the mechanisms that regulate learning and memory is to optimize the development of strategies to offset cognitive impairments. Increasing evidence shows that immune system molecules play a role in the physiologic development and modulation of the central nervous system. Our preliminary data show that the specific chemokine, CXCL12, plays a modulatory role in learning and memory; however, the underlying mechanism on how CXCL12 affects cognitive functioning is poorly understood. A likely physiologic mechanism regulating learning and memory is adult neurogenesis: a multistep process of generating new neurons involving cell proliferation, migration, differentiation and commitment to a neuronal phenotype, maturation, and synaptic integration into the existing neuronal circuitry. We hypothesize that effects of CXCL12 (through signaling with its corresponding receptor, CXCR4) on cognitive functioning may be mediated by endogenous adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus (brain region involved in learning and memory) given that neurogenesis has been shown to play an important role in learning and memory. To examine the effects of CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling on neurogenesis and its relationship to learning and memory, this preclinical study involves a cross-sectional design using adult male Wistar rats that will be treated with a CXCR4 antagonist to block the physiologic functioning of CXCL12 and undergo cognitive testing.