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SELF-FUNDING MSc BY RESEARCH PROJECT. Glia mechanisms in depression: dissecting serotonin-independent changes to astrocyte phenotype in depression

   School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience

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  Dr Valentina Mosienko  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Read more about Dr Mosienko’s team and research here and on Twitter

Depression is the most common mental health illness and proposed to be underlined by a decreased level of brain monoamines such as serotonin. Therapeutic effects of most prescribed antidepressants are ascribed to their ability to elevate brain serotonin. However, there is growing evidence suggesting that mechanisms in depression and of antidepressants rely on signalling pathways independent of serotonin.

Non-neuronal brain cells called astrocytes are essential to normal brain functioning – and has been implicated in depression etiology. Number of astrocytes is reduced in amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in brain samples from both depressed patients and animal models of depression – astrocyte phenotype that can be reversed by a treatment with an antidepressant. However, whether the disease and/or antidepressants regulate astrocyte phenotype directly or through elevating serotonin is currently not known.

This project is built on strong preliminary data obtained by a summer (read here about the student's experience) and Master’s project student that argue for serotonin-independent mechanisms of stress on astrocyte phenotype. As part of the current project you will further dissect brain area specific and serotonin-independent changes to astrocyte morphology, number and signalling as a response to stress and antidepressant treatment.

You will be embed within a multidisciplinary and dynamic team of researchers that employ animal models, in vitro and in vivo voltammetry and imaging, and RNAseq to investigate the role of astrocyte signalling pathways in stress response, depression, and antidepressant treatment. You will have ample opportunities to grow in areas of behaviour, molecular and cellular neuroscience, as well as to collaborate with bioinformaticians, present your work at a conference, and contribute to publishing a research paper.

Please, do not hesitate to get in touch with me [Email Address Removed] if you would like to further discuss this exciting project.

Funding Notes

This MSc by Research is offered on a self-funded basis with the student expected to cover the costs of their fees and living costs.
When applying please indicate the name of the project and supervisors; please also enter the School to which you are applying.


Relevant literature – starter reading:
Murphy-Royal C et al. Glia, 2019; doi: 10.1002/glia.23610
Muller FE et al. Glia, 2021; doi: 10.1002/glia.23933
Torres-Platas SG et al. Molecular Psychiatry, 2016; doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.65

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