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Time-Lapse Visualization of Microglia Cell Processes using Fluorescent Miniature (Miniscope) Imaging

Description

In the United States, an estimated 2 million cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting in more than 50,000 deaths occur every year. TBI induces an immediate primary injury resulting in local or diffuse cell death in the brain. Then

In the United States, an estimated 2 million cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting in more than 50,000 deaths occur every year. TBI induces an immediate primary injury resulting in local or diffuse cell death in the brain. Then a secondary injury occurs through neuroinflammation from immune cells in response to primary injury. Microglia, the resident immune cell of the central nervous system, play a critical role in neuroinflammation following TBI. Microglia make up 10% of all cells in the nervous system and are the fastest moving cells in the brain, scanning the entire parenchyma every several hours. Microglia have roles in both the healthy and injured brain. In the healthy brain, microglia can produce neuroprotective factors, clear cellular debris, and organize neurorestorative processes to recover from TBI. However, microglia mediated neuroinflammation during secondary injury produces pro-inflammatory and cytotoxic mediators contributing to neuronal dysfunction, inhibition of CNS repair, and cell death. Furthermore, neuroinflammation is a prominent feature in many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease, of which include overactive microglia function. Microglia cell morphology, activation, and response to TBI is poorly understood. Currently, imaging microglia can only be performed while the animal is stationary and under anesthesia. The Miniscope technology allows for real-time visualization of microglia in awake behaving animals. The Miniscope is a miniature fluorescent microscope that can be implanted over a craniectomy to image microglia. Currently, the goals of Miniscope imaging are to improve image quality and develop time-lapse imaging capabilities. There were five main sub-projects that focused on these goals including surgical nose cone design, surgical holder design, improved GRIN lens setup, improved magnification through achromatic lenses, and time-lapse imaging hardware development. Completing these goals would allow for the visualization of microglia function in the healthy and injured brain, elucidating important immune functions that could provide new strategies for treating brain diseases.

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2019-05

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Synthetic Platelets Reduce Neuroinflammation in Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury

Description

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result in many pathologies, one of which being coagulopathy. TBI can progress to hemorrhagic lesions and increased intercranial pressure leading to coagulopathy. The coagulopathy has been linked to poor clinical outcomes and occurs in 60%

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result in many pathologies, one of which being coagulopathy. TBI can progress to hemorrhagic lesions and increased intercranial pressure leading to coagulopathy. The coagulopathy has been linked to poor clinical outcomes and occurs in 60% of severe TBI cases. To improve hemostasis, synthetic platelets (SPs) have been repurposed. SPs are composed of a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acrylic-acid) microgel, conjugated with a fibrin-specific antibody and are biomimetic in their ability to deform and collapse within a fibrin matrix. The objective of this study is to diminish coagulopathy with a single, intravenous injection of SPs, and subsequently decrease neuropathologies. TBI was modeled in animal cohorts using the well-established controlled cortical impact and SPs were injected 2-3 hours post-injury. Control cohorts received no injection. Brain tissue was harvested at acute (24h) and delayed (7 days) time points post-TBI, and fluorescently imaged to quantify reactive astrocytes (GFAP+), microglial morphology and presence (Iba1+), and tissue lesion spared. SP-treatment resulted in significant reduction of GFAP expression at 7 days post-TBI. Furthermore, SP-treatment significantly reduced the percent difference from 24h to 7 days in microglia/macrophage per field compared to the control. For microglial morphology, SP-treated cohorts observed a significant percent difference in endpoints per soma from 24h to 7 days compared to untreated cohorts. However, microglial branch length significantly decreased in percent difference from 24h to 7 days when compared to the control. Finally, tissue sparing did not significantly decrease between 24h and 7 day for SP-treated cohorts as was observed in untreated cohorts, implying inhibition of delayed necrosis. Overall, these results suggest decreased neuroinflammation by 7 days, supporting SPs as potentially therapeutic post-TBI.

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2019-05

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Identifying Novel Nanobodies for Traumatic Brain Injury Therapeutics

Description

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious health problem around the world with few available treatments. TBI pathology can be divided into two phases: the primary insult and the secondary injury. The primary insult results from the bump or blow

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious health problem around the world with few available treatments. TBI pathology can be divided into two phases: the primary insult and the secondary injury. The primary insult results from the bump or blow to the head that causes the initial injury. Secondary injury lasts from hours to months after the initial injury and worsens the primary insult, creating a greater area of tissue damage and cell death. Many current treatments focus on lessening the severity of secondary injury. Secondary injury results from the cyclical nature of tissue damage. Inflammatory pathways cause damage to tissue, which in turn reinforces inflammation. Since many inflammatory pathways are interconnected, targeting individual products within these pathways is impractical. A target at the beginning of the pathway, such as a receptor, must be chosen to break the cycle. This project aims to identify novel nanobodies that could temporarily inactivate the CD36 receptor, which is a receptor found on many immune and endothelial cells. CD36 initiates and perpetuates the immune system's inflammatory responses. By inactivating this receptor temporarily, inflammation and immune cell entry could be lessened, and therefore secondary injury could be attenuated. This project utilized phage display as a method of nanobody selection. The specific phage library utilized in this experiment consists of human heavy chain (V_H) segments, also known as domain antibodies (dAbs), displayed on M13 filamentous bacteriophage. Phage display mimics the process of immune selection. The target is bound to a well as a means of displaying it to the phage. The phage library is then incubated with the target to allow antibodies to bind. After, the well is washed thoroughly to detach any phage that are not strongly bound. The remaining phage are then amplified in bacteria and run again through the same assay to select for mutations that resulted in higher affinity binding. This process, called biopanning, was performed three times for this project. After biopanning, the library was sequenced using Next Generation sequencing (NGS). This platform enables the entire library to be sequenced, as opposed to traditional Sanger sequencing, which can only sequence single select clones at a time thereby limiting population sampling. This type of genetic sequencing allows trends in the complementarity determining regions (CDRs) of the domain antibody library to be analyzed, using bioinformatics programs such as RStudio, FastAptamer, and Swiss Model. Ultimately, two nanobody candidates were identified for the CD36 receptor.

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2018-05

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Creating Biochemical Gradients via Photoconjugation and an In-House Designed Sliding Photomask

Description

Tissue engineering is an emerging field focused on the repair, replacement, and regeneration of damaged tissue. Engineered tissue consists of three factors: cells, biomolecular signals, and a scaffold. Cell-free scaffolds present a unique opportunity to develop highly specific microenvironments with

Tissue engineering is an emerging field focused on the repair, replacement, and regeneration of damaged tissue. Engineered tissue consists of three factors: cells, biomolecular signals, and a scaffold. Cell-free scaffolds present a unique opportunity to develop highly specific microenvironments with tunable properties. Norbornene-functionalized hyaluronic acid (NorHA) hydrogels provide spatial control over biomolecule binding through a photopolymerization process. With this, biomimetic gradients can be produced to model a variety of tissue interfaces. To produce these patterns, a gradient mechanism was developed to function in tandem with a syringe pump. A conversion equation was derived to calculate a panel speed from the volumetric flow rate setting on the pump. Seven speeds were used to produce fluorophore gradients on the surface of NorHA hydrogels to assess changes in the length and slope of the gradient. The results indicated a strong positive linear correlation between the speed of the panel and the length of the gradient as well as a strong negative correlation between the speed of the panel and the slope of the gradient. Additionally, the mechanism was able to successfully produce several other types of gradients including multiregional, dual, and triregional.

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2019-05

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Image Analysis for Registration, Segmentation, and Intensity Measurement of 2-Photon Microscope Images using MATLAB

Description

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major concern in public health due to its prevalence and effect. Every year, about 1.7 million TBIs are reported [7]. According to the According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5.5%

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major concern in public health due to its prevalence and effect. Every year, about 1.7 million TBIs are reported [7]. According to the According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5.5% of all emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths from 2002 to 2006 are due to TBI [8]. The brain's natural defense, the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), prevents the entry of most substances into the brain through the blood stream, including medicines administered to treat TBI [11]. TBI may cause the breakdown of the BBB, and may result in increased permeability, providing an opportunity for NPs to enter the brain [3,4]. Dr. Stabenfeldt's lab has previously established that intravenously injected nanoparticles (NP) will accumulate near the injury site after focal brain injury [4]. The current project focuses on confirmation of the accumulation or extravasation of NPs after brain injury using 2-photon microscopy. Specifically, the project used controlled cortical impact injury induced mice models that were intravenously injected with 40nm NPs post-injury. The MATLAB code seeks to analyze the brain images through registration, segmentation, and intensity measurement and evaluate if fluorescent NPs will accumulate in the extravascular tissue of injured mice models. The code was developed with 2D bicubic interpolation, subpixel image registration, drawn dimension segmentation and fixed dimension segmentation, and dynamic image analysis. A statistical difference was found between the extravascular tissue of injured and uninjured mouse models. This statistical difference proves that the NPs do extravasate through the permeable cranial blood vessels in injured cranial tissue.

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2018-05

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Characterization of Inflammatory Cell Population in Brain After SDF-1α Injection

Description

The brain is the most important part of the central nervous system in the human body. It is the center of consciousness and controls all voluntary motor activity of the body. Mechanical trauma sustained to the head during a car

The brain is the most important part of the central nervous system in the human body. It is the center of consciousness and controls all voluntary motor activity of the body. Mechanical trauma sustained to the head during a car accident, fall, or sports injury can lead to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that may have long ranging and sustained physical, cognitive and emotional effects. TBI is the most common form of brain injury and it contributes to one third of all injury related deaths in the United States. The Stabenfeldt lab aims to develop regenerative strategies that will harness inherent endogenous repair mechanisms in traumatic brain injury to improve functional outcomes in cognitive and motor functions. Previous research has demonstrated that the acute inflammatory response after TBI releases soluble cytokines that mediate regeneration after TBI. One of such soluble signal is stromal cell derived factor-1α (SDF-1α) and its receptor CXCR4. The SDF-1α/CXCR4 signaling axis directs the migration and organization of neural progenitor/ stem cells which is important in the regeneration of the injury area. In this study, we probed this paradigm by injecting bolus and nanoparticle exogenous SDF-1α intracortically into mice then sacrificing at 1, 3, and 7 days’ post-injection. Increased CXCR4 positive cells were expressed around the SDF-1α injection area. This study specifically focused on characterizing microglia and macrophage population in the brains that expressed CXCR4 via immunohistochemistry. Data from this study showed that the bolus group initiated microglial activation within the injection tract particularly at day 3 post injection which was resolved by day 7. However, the nanoparticle group initiated the activation of microglial/macrophages as early as day 1 post injection which proceeded to day 7. This shows that the nanoparticle groups initiated an
3
inflammatory reaction in the injection tract irrespective of SDF-1α since the blank nanoparticle (nanoparticle with no SDF-1α) group exhibited the identical trend.

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2017-05

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Pelvic Ultrasound to Evaluate Parameters that may Affect Intrauterine Device (IUD) Placement Failure and Success

Description

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) have become one of the most common types of contraception in the United States. In the last decade, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) have become one of the most common types of contraception in the United States. In the last decade, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated IUD recommendations to include placement in younger populations and nulliparous women. Research has shown that younger, nulliparous women may have smaller uterine dimensions and it is possible that larger IUDs are not suitable for those populations. This study retrospectively evaluated follow-up pelvic ultrasounds showing uterine dimensions and IUD positions of 57 women who had IUDs placed in a clinic. The largest IUD, the Paragard, showed a significantly higher rate of malpositioning than the Kyleena, Liletta, and Mirena IUDs. There is concern that the Paragard IUD, which is most commonly malpositioned, is also the IUD most dependent on position for adequate contraception. There was no correlation between uterine dimensions and IUD position at the time of analysis, however. Further data collection will continue in hopes that a larger sample size will reveal a parameter which affects IUD placement. Should further data analysis show that uterine width plays an important role in IUD position, the design for a device which can measure the width of patient's uterus (without the need for pelvic ultrasound) has been included. The concept generation for this measurement device includes laser measurements of uterine cavity width at different known lengths from the fundal wall, which output to an LED screen for recording.

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2018-05

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Endogenous Repair Signaling After Brain Injury and Complementary Bioengineering Approaches to Enhance Neural Regeneration

Description

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects 5.3 million Americans annually. Despite the many long-term deficits associated with TBI, there currently are no clinically available therapies that directly address the underlying pathologies contributing to these deficits. Preclinical studies have investigated various therapeutic

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects 5.3 million Americans annually. Despite the many long-term deficits associated with TBI, there currently are no clinically available therapies that directly address the underlying pathologies contributing to these deficits. Preclinical studies have investigated various therapeutic approaches for TBI: two such approaches are stem cell transplantation and delivery of bioactive factors to mitigate the biochemical insult affiliated with TBI. However, success with either of these approaches has been limited largely due to the complexity of the injury microenvironment. As such, this review outlines the many factors of the injury microenvironment that mediate endogenous neural regeneration after TBI and the corresponding bioengineering approaches that harness these inherent signaling mechanisms to further amplify regenerative efforts.

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2015-05-12

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ENGINEERING SYNTHETIC CHROMATIN TRANSCRIPTION FACTORS

Description

Transgene expression in mammalian cells has been shown to meet resistance in the form of silencing due to chromatin buildup within the cell. Interactions of proteins with chromatin modulate gene expression profiles. Synthetic Polycomb transcription factor (PcTF) variants have the

Transgene expression in mammalian cells has been shown to meet resistance in the form of silencing due to chromatin buildup within the cell. Interactions of proteins with chromatin modulate gene expression profiles. Synthetic Polycomb transcription factor (PcTF) variants have the potential to reactivate these silence transgenes as shown in Haynes & Silver 2011. PcTF variants have been constructed via TypeIIS assembly to further investigate this ability to reactive transgenes. Expression in mammalian cells was confirmed via fluorescence microscopy and red fluorescent protein (RFP) expression in cell lysate. Examination of any variation in conferment of binding strength of homologous Polycomb chromodomains (PCDs) to its trimethylated lysine residue target on histone three (H3K27me3) was investigated using a thermal shift assay. Results indicate that PcTF may not be a suitable protein for surveying with SYPRO Orange, a dye that produces a detectable signal when exposed to the hydrophobic domains of the melting protein. A cell line with inducible silencing of a chemiluminescent protein was used to determine the effects PcTF variants had on gene reactivation. Results show down-regulation of the target reporter gene. We propose this may be due to PcTF not binding to its target; this would cause PcTF to deplete transcriptional machinery in the nucleus. Alternatively, the CMV promoter could be sequestering transcriptional machinery in its hyperactive transcription of PcTF leading to widespread down-regulation. Finally, the activation domain used may not be appropriate for this cell type. Future PcTF variants will address these hypotheses by including multiple Polycomb chromodomains (PCDs) to alter the binding dynamics of PcTF to its target, and by incorporating alternative promoters and activation domains.

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2015-05

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Pharmacologic Modulation of the Blood-Brain Barrier

Description

One of the most prominent biological challenges for the field of drug delivery is the blood-brain barrier. This physiological system blocks the entry of or actively removes almost all small molecules into the central nervous system (CNS), including many drugs

One of the most prominent biological challenges for the field of drug delivery is the blood-brain barrier. This physiological system blocks the entry of or actively removes almost all small molecules into the central nervous system (CNS), including many drugs that could be used to treat diseases in the CNS. Previous studies have shown that activation of the adenosine receptor signaling pathway through the use of agonists has been demonstrated to increase BBB permeability. For example, regadenoson is an adenosine A2A receptor agonist that has been shown to disrupt the BBB and allow for increased drug uptake in the CNS. The goal of this study was to verify this property of regadenoson. We hypothesized that co-administration of regadenoson with a non-brain penetrant macromolecule would facilitate its entry into the central nervous system. To test this hypothesis, healthy mice were administered regadenoson or saline concomitantly with a fluorescent dextran solution. The brain tissue was either homogenized to measure quantity of fluorescent molecule, or cryosectioned for imaging with confocal fluorescence microscopy. These experiments did not identify any significant difference in the amount of fluorescence detected in the brain after regadenoson treatment. These results contradict those of previous studies and highlight potential differences in injection methodology, time windows, and properties of brain impermeant molecules.

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2015-05