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Grant recipient

Verena Untiet

Astrocytic chloride as key modulator of excitation/inhibition balance in healthy and diseased brain
Grant amount: DKK 10,000,000

Epilepsy affects over 6 million people in Europe and current treatments are mainly focused on relieving symptoms. In neurons from brain slices of patients with epilepsy, the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA becomes excitatory. In healthy condition, this inhibition is mainly mediated via chloride (Cl^-) influx into neurons, which hyperpolarizes the cell and suppresses excitation. The direction of Cl- movement depends on the Cl- gradient across the membrane. Astrocytes are cells in the brain that help maintain ion balance, and I have recently shown that astrocytic Cl^- levels can affect how long neurons remain active. My hypothesis is that when Cl^- levels are disturbed in astrocytes, neuronal signaling is disrupted. Regulation of Cl^- levels in astrocytes might represent a new therapeutic target for treatment of epilepsy. The main goal of the research work is to identify astrocytic Cl^- homeostatic pathways as targets for therapeutical strategies to treat epileptic seizures.

Verena Untiet
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences - University of Copenhagen
Center for Translational Neuromedicine