Cholinergic regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis and cognitive functions.
Early pathogenic events in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) include a progressive loss in brain’s capacity to generate new neurons (i.e. neurogenesis) in the area important for learning and memory and degeneration of cells that produce a neurochemical, acetylcholine that is vital for cognitive functions. However, whether and how these two processes are linked remains an open question. In this project, we will investigate a direct link between these two cellular processes and cognitive functions and explore whether these deficits can be rescued by stimulating a select receptor that we have identified boosts the production of new neurons. Using a multi-modal approach involving animal models to monitor and manipulate specific neuronal populations, together with assessing cognitive functions, our research will provide the experimental evidence establishing the role of cholinergic neurons and a select cholinergic receptor in regulating adult neurogenesis and neurogenesis-dependent cognitive functions. The outcomes of this study may provide the mechanistic basis for the development of a new approach harnessing therapeutic potential of brain’s endogenous neuroplasticity mechanism to delay the onset or slow the progression of dementia.
Dr Jhaveri holds a joint appointment at the Mater Research Institute and the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), University of Queensland and is a Mater Foundation Senior Research Fellow.