Postdoc symposiumNeuroscience Symposium
The Neuroscience Symposia are organized weekly by the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. The presentations are given by researchers from the institute or by guest speakers. The title and content of the symposium is usually made known in the week prior to the presentation.
Colloquium room – Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience
4:00 pm – David Attwell | The role of capillary pericytes in regulating brain energy supply in health and disease
4:45 pm – Discussion and drinks
Brain blood flow is regulated to ensure adequate power for neuronal computation. Blood flow is increased to areas where neurons are active, and this increase underlies non-invasive brain imaging using BOLD fMRI. I will demonstrate that neuronal activity mainly increases cerebral blood flow by dilating capillaries via pericytes, that this involves signalling via astrocytes, and that dilation of capillaries and dilation of arterioles are mediated by different messengers.
Ischaemia leads to pericytes constricting and dying in rigor, thus producing a long-lasting decrease of blood flow, making pericytes a therapeutic target in stroke. I will show that similar events occur in Alzheimer’s Disease: both in humans with dementia who are depositing amyloid and in a knock-in model of Alzheimer’s disease in mice, capillaries are constricted preferentially at pericyte locations. This constriction is sufficient to approximately halve blood flow and in humans increases with the severity of the disease. Pericyte constriction is a therapeutic target in Alzheimer’s disease.
David Attwell did a first degree in physics and a PhD on the electrophysiology of nerve and muscle cells (with Julian Jack) in Oxford, before spending 2 years in Berkeley studying the retina with Frank Werblin. On returning to the UK, he moved to the Department of Physiology at University College London, where he has remained ever since. He has worked on a wide range of subjects including the properties of glial cells, glutamate transporters, stroke, the formation of myelin by oligodendrocytes, how neuronal computation is powered and the control of cerebral blood flow. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001.