Molecular Neuroimaging in Psychiatry
In vivo molecular imaging of the 18-kDa Translocator Protein (TSPO) has demonstrated the involvement of glia-mediated neuroinflammation in the pathophysiology of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, such as bipolar disorder (BD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our general hypothesis is that TSPO plays an aggravating role in BD and AD.
Our laboratory aims to study changes in glial cells and TSPO to identify potential therapeutic pathways. We use molecular approaches such as single cell RNA sequencing on astrocytes and microglia, RNA quantification by nanostring and proteomics applied on human samples from BD and AD subjects and animal models of AD. We also employ spatial Transcriptomics and immunofluorescence measurements at the cellular level to localize the alterations. We are developing quantitative imaging for the in vivo study of TSPO, and biological approaches such as fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) are used to reveal the cellular origin of the radioactive signal measured by SPECT/PET in animal models. Finally, using mouse models of AD devoid of TSPO, the role of this protein in the progression of AD symptoms, including cognitive tests of spatial working memory and reference memories, is investigated.