PROF. MAŁGORZATA SKUP
Head of the Lab
The central question of our research concerns the elucidation of mechanisms involved in assembly, plasticity and function of neuronal circuits in control of motor behavior. Malfunctioning of motor circuits after spinal cord injury in adults and interventions promoting structural, molecular and functional recovery are investigated. Understanding principles of motoneuron responses at central and peripheral synapses after injury and stimulation of motor circuit will be essential for future treatment.
PROF. JULITA CZARKOWSKA-BAUCH
former Head of the Lab
My research of the motor system, in particular of the spinal cord, has been focused on the possibilities of increasing the recovery potential of the nervous system after traumatic injuries. To counteract disabilities caused by spinal cord injuries the functional methods of locomotor training or low-threshold electrical stimulation of peripheral nerves were applied to modulate neurotransmitter and neurotrophin signaling in the neuromuscular system.
OLGA GAJEWSKA-WOŹNIAK, PHD
In my studies, I use a spectrum of strategies such as: locomotor training, electrical nerve stimulation or gene constructs (AAV-DREADD, AAV-TrkB) targeted at a selected population of spinal motoneurons suffering from innervation deficits after spinal cord injury. My aim is to evoke beneficial changes in local synaptic plasticity and subsequent recovery of equilibrium in innervation and signaling between motoneurons controlling the antagonistic muscles acting at the ankle joint.
The perineuronal nets (PNNs) in the mature CNS maintain the architecture and stabilize synapses, thereby reducing synaptic plasticity. Because SCT caused a reorganization of motoneurons (MNs) networks my goal is to analyze changes in neuronal excitatory innervation of motoneurons and their microenvironment - PNNs after injury.
The aim of my project is to understand the roles of AMPAR and NMDAR in the recovery process after spinal cord transection. Currently, I am trying to characterize the subunit composition and phosphorylation state of AMPAR and NMDAR on the surface of spinal cord α-motoneurons (MNs) in rats with complete spinal cord transection (SCT) and to answer the question whether increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in spinal animals may change these receptors.
In my study, I found better preservation of neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) integrity in muscles after BDNF treatment and differential response of flexor and extensor muscles to injury and treatment. In the ongoing project, I ask questions on the mechanisms which may contribute to BDNF-related maintenance of peripheral synapse.