Title: "Mechanisms of acute astrocyte volume change and effects on neuronal excitability"
Our lab lab is interested in understanding the role of astrocytes in the regulation and control of neuronal and brain tissue excitability in the healthy and diseased brain. There are two major research projects. The first is to understand the role of astrocytes in the regulation of the brain's extracellular space (ECS). The ECS is very dynamic and is directly tied to changes in brain excitability. Due to the role of astrocytes in ion, water, and neurotransmitter homeostasis, they play a major role in regulating the size of the ECS. Using a combination of fluorescent real-time volume imaging of astrocytes and neuronal electrophysiological recordings, we are working to understand the dynamic relationship between acute astrocytic volume changes and their mechanisms, effects on the ECS, and brain excitability. The second project is a collaborative effort with the Martin Riccomagno lab to understand the role of reactive astrocytes in brain disease. In virtually every CNS injury, disorder, and brain disease, astrocytes become reactive, with positive or negative outcomes on disease progression. Reactive astrocytes are completely different than their healthy counterparts. We have devised a new transgenic strategy to manipulate gene expression only in reactive astrocytes in the damaged or diseased brain in order to increase understanding of their role in brain injury and inflammation.