Post Doctoral Fellow
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Following completion of her Bachelor of Science in Biological Science, Christin obtained her Master of Science in 2013 in Molecular Medicine from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, majoring in pharmacology and pathology. During her Master Thesis, she investigated the coupling of brain stimulation reward, adult neurogenesis and learning in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg, Germany.
Christin joined the Schizophrenia Research Laboratory as a visiting researcher in 2014 and relocated to Australia in 2015 to start her PhD. She investigates age-related changes of neurogenesis and associated molecular factors in healthy humans across the entire lifespan. Christin also examines whether there are differences in neurogenesis and associated molecular factors in the brains of healthy adults compared to patients with schizophrenia. Her research will be important to advance our understanding of the underlying molecular causes of this disease and may help to explain some of the symptoms, such as working memory deficits.
Neuroblasts exist within the human subependymal zone (SEZ); however, it is debated to what extent neurogenesis changes during normal aging. It is also unknown how precursor proliferation may correlate with the generation of neuronal and glial cells or how expression of growth factors and receptors may change throughout the adult lifespan. We found evidence of dividing cells in the human SEZ (n D 50) in conjunction with a dramatic age-related decline (21-103 years) of mRNAs indicative of proliferating cells (Ki67) and immature neurons (doublecortin). Microglia mRNA (ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1) increased during aging, whereas transcript levels of stem/precursor cells (glial fibrillary acidic protein delta and achaete-scute homolog 1), astrocytes (vimentin and pan-glial fibrillary acidic protein), and oligodendrocytes (oligodendrocyte lineage transcription factor 2) remained stable. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) mRNAs increased throughout adulthood, while transforming growth factor alpha (TGFα), EGF, Erb-B2 receptor tyrosine kinase 4 (ErbB4) and FGF receptor 1 (FGFR1) mRNAs were unchanged across adulthood. Cell proliferation mRNA positively correlated with FGFR1 transcripts. Immature neuron and oligodendrocyte marker expression positively correlated with TGFα and ErbB4 mRNAs, whilst astrocyte transcripts positively correlated with EGF, FGF2, and FGFR1 mRNAs. Microglia mRNA positively correlated with EGF and FGF2 expression. Our findings indicate that neurogenesis in the human SEZ continues well into adulthood, although proliferation and neuronal differentiation may decline across adulthood. We suggest that mRNA expression of EGF- and FGF-related family members do not become limited during aging and may modulate neuronal and glial fate determination in the SEZ throughout human life.
Neurogenesis in the subependymal zone (SEZ) declines across the human lifespan, and reduced local neurotrophic support is speculated to be a contributing factor. While tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB) signalling is critical for neuronal differentiation, maturation and survival, little is known about subependymal TrkB expression changes during postnatal human life. In this study, we used quantitative PCR and in situ hybridisation to determine expression of the cell proliferation marker Ki67, the immature neuron marker doublecortin (DCX) and both full-length (TrkB-TK+) and truncated TrkB receptors (TrkB-TK-) in the human SEZ from infancy to middle age (n = 26-35, 41 days to 43 years). We further measured TrkB-TK+ and TrkB-TK- mRNAs in the SEZ from young adulthood into ageing (n = 50, 21-103 years), and related their transcript levels to neurogenic and glial cell markers. Ki67, DCX and both TrkB splice variant mRNAs significantly decreased in the SEZ from infancy to middle age. In contrast, TrkB-TK- mRNA increased in the SEZ from young adulthood into ageing, whereas TrkB-TK+ mRNA remained stable. TrkB-TK- mRNA positively correlated with expression of neural precursor (glial fibrillary acidic protein delta and achaete-scute homolog 1) and glial cell markers (vimentin and pan glial fibrillary acidic protein). TrkB-TK+ mRNA positively correlated with expression of neuronal cell markers (DCX and tubulin beta 3 class III). Our results indicate that cells residing in the human SEZ maintain their responsiveness to neurotrophins; however, this capability may change across postnatal life. We suggest that TrkB splice variants may differentially influence neuronal and glial differentiation in the human SEZ.