Investigating Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Brain Cells

Dr Elizaveta Olkhova recently presented at our WCMR science seminar series about her research that involves investigating mitochondrial dysfunction in brain cells (neurons) as part of a human neuropathological study and within a novel mouse model of neurological disorder. Here Elizaveta tells us more.

Dr Elizaveta Olkhova

Mitochondria are cellular powerplants needed for our brain cells (neurons) to function. Patients with mitochondrial disease may develop movement problems and epilepsy due to abnormal brain activity. My research project involves investigating what happens when mitochondria become faulty in special brain cells called inhibitory neurons which are involved in dampening down the activity of other neurons. 

We developed a new mouse model which mimics some of the disease features seen in mitochondrial dysfunction, such as movement disorder, epilepsy and cognitive problems. We use this mouse model to study cellular and molecular changes in the brain and compare these to the data we obtain from human brain tissues, donated by patients with primary mitochondrial disease. 

This research is important as studying why faulty mitochondria in neurons leads to disease symptoms will help develop new therapies in the future for neurological conditions where mitochondrial dysfunction is observed.

Elizaveta would like to thank the following funders who contributed to her PhD project within the WCMR: the Newcastle University Overseas Research Scholarship (NUORS), the Covid-19 Impact Scholarship and the Academic Development Post-Submission Scholarship.