Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience announces that Dr. Vidhya Rangaraju’s Neuroenergentics Lab has been awarded a grant from the Louis D. Srybnik Foundation, Inc. to study the underlying neuronal chemistry of mitochondrial function. This grant will allow Dr. Ilika Ghosh, a postdoctoral scholar in the Rangaraju Lab, to expand on a new technique the lab developed to visualize a chemical called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) during synaptic plasticity.
The brain consumes a high amount of energy for cognitive functions such as learning and memory. Glucose is the primary brain fuel broken down by various biochemical pathways to produce the energy currency, ATP. A significant part of this happens in mitochondria in the brain.
How mitochondrial ATP synthesis is controlled during learning and memory is still not well understood, even though mitochondrial dysfunction is known to play a role in many age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
The Rangaraju Lab hopes to reveal the role of ATP in synaptic plasticity by using cutting-edge techniques to visualize and measure ATP in spines and dendrites. Identifying the energy sources and molecular factors that drive plasticity will provide essential insights into ATP regulation in memory formation.
Currently, in the US alone, over 6.2 million people above the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050, this number is estimated to rise to 13 million. Since mitochondrial dysfunction is a known cause of neurodegeneration and dementia, learning about the mechanisms that regulate mitochondrial ATP is critical to understanding memory formation and cognition.
“We are grateful to the Louis D. Srybnik foundation for their support. We hope that our results may lead to the development of future diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for the millions of people who suffer from the impacts of neurodegenerative disease,” said Dr. Ghosh.