The role of lipid droplets in neurodegeneration studied in cells using advanced microscopy
Neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, belong to the five leading causes for death in industrialized countries. While it has been understood that these diseases show atypical protein aggregation in the brain, the initial cause and early changes in cells have not been discovered yet. This leads to late diagnoses (when many neuronal cells are already dead) and a lack in treatment for these diseases. Recently, lipid droplets (LDs) have been indicated to occur as response to oxidative stress during neurodegeneration. This project aims to unravel the impact these LDs have on different cells in the brain and if they interact with the proteins that become insoluble as part of disease progression. The study of lipid biogenesis and protein aggregation simultaneously and with high precision within cells is challenging. Thus, I will employ advanced microscopy techniques to display proteins and lipids in situ i.e. coherent Raman scattering (CRS). Hyperspectral maps are collected, where each image pixel contains a vibrational spectrum with information about lipid chemistry and protein secondary structure.This project will be carried out at the department for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where one of the world leading labs for protein CRS microscopy is situated – a technique currently not available in Sweden. In summary, my project will contribute to the understanding of neurodegeneration and possibly point towards therapeutic targets.
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- Swedish Research Council (VR) (Public, Sweden)