Anja I. Srienc

     E-mail: srien005@umn.edu

     Year Entered: 2010

     Degrees Received:
     University College Utrech
     Biomedical Science major
     B.S., 2008

     Thesis Advisor: Eric Newman, Ph.D.

     Thesis Research: Characterizing the functional consequences
     of glial calcium signaling in ischemia.

     Macroglial cells were long considered to be passive support
     cells in the central nervous system. It is now known that under
     healthy conditions, glial cells in the brain and in the retina
     modulate neuronal activity and blood flow in a calcium
     dependent manner. Glial calcium signaling can occur spontaneously or can be evoked by neuronal activity, and calcium increases may occur in individual cells or may be propagated throughout a network of glial cells as ATP- or IP3-mediated calcium waves. Increases in calcium signaling have also been associated with pathologic conditions: (i) resting astrocyte calcium levels and intercellular astrocyte calcium signaling are increased in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, with intercellular calcium waves arising more frequently from regions near amyloid plaques; (ii) glial calcium signaling is elevated following status epilepticus, and is associated with altered neuronal activity and cell death; (iii) ischemia increases glial calcium signaling in the brain and in the retina. The majority of work on glial contributions to pathophysiology remains in vitro or in situ, and often does not address the functional consequences of increased glial signaling. In particular, neuronal ischemic injury has been well studied, but the functional role of glial cells in the context of ischemia remains unclear. My thesis work will focus on characterizing the functional effects of ischemia-induced increases in glial calcium signaling on neuronal excitability and neurovascular coupling.

Publications (pubmed):

Srienc AI, Kornfield TE, Mishra A, Burian MA, Newman EA. Assessment of glial function in the in vivo retina. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;814:499-514.

Srienc AI, Kurth-Nelson ZL, Newman EA. Imaging retinal blood flow with laser speckle flowmetry. Front Neuroenergetics. 2010 Sep 15;2. pii: 128.