Claire Meehan Group – University of Copenhagen

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Motor Control > Research > Claire Meehan Group

Claire Meehan Group

Research

The main experimental approach of the laboratory has been the use and development of electrophysiological techniques in which the excitability and connectivity of spinal neurones can be investigated in transgenic rodent models in vivo. Using this, we explore both normal spinal motor control and the role of changes in neuronal excitability in the pathophysiology of various injury and disease states affecting the motor system. We focus mainly on:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. This is a neurodegenerative disease preferentially affecting upper and lower motor neurons with no current cure. The underlying pathophysiology of the disease is unclear but there is considerable evidence that neuronal excitability plays a role. Using transgenic models of the disease we are exploring the contributions of altered neuronal excitability to the degeneration of the motoneurones.

  • Spinal cord injury. Spinal cord trauma results not only in the loss of functions controlled by the spinal cord below the injury, but also gains of function. These can serious impair quality of life and include chronic pain, autonomic dysfunction and spasticity. We are exploring the plasticity of neuronal excitability and circuitry following spinal cord injury that underlie these phenomena.

  • Axon initial segment plasticity: The axon initial segment is the site of action potential generation in neurones and thus is an optimal hotspot for neuronal plasticity. We are exploring how this structure tunes the excitability level of spinal motoneurones and how it responds in a homeostatic way to perturbations in inputs and activity levels.