Dr Lauriane Jugé

RESEARCHER PROFILE

Postdoctoral fellow Conjoint Lecturer, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW

+612 9399 1891


I am a postdoctoral fellow in medical imaging at NeuRA since 2012. My research focuses on the use of MRI techniques to elucidate underlying pathophysiology on issues of importance for ageing ( e.g. dementia, neural injury and sleep disorders) to determine clinical translation pathways for improving diagnosis and monitoring. I am the leading MR scientist in a research program at NeuRA/UNSW which measures neurovascular injury using multi-modal MRI techniques in sleep apnoea and cardiovascular diseases to establish the potential of early stage interventions and develop new understanding at the intersection of sleep, cognition, vascular and imaging research. I completed my PhD in 2012 (Biomedical research centre Bichat-Beaujon, France) in cancer imaging. Prior to this, I worked as a research assistant at ChimieParisTech (France) in molecular analysis and biomedical imaging for 6 years, after graduating from a DESS in molecular analysis (Masters 2nd year), a Maitrise in organic chemistry (Masters 1st year), a Licence and a DUT, both in chemistry (BSc).

Projects Dr Lauriane Jugé is currently involved with

CURRENT PROJECTS

Poor sleep, neurovascular injury and cognitive decline

Sleep is a fundamental biological requirement for human health. Poor sleep quality and increased sleep fragmentation increases the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. More specifically, poor sleep quality is considered to be an underlying cause of cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD), a common feature of the ageing brain that affects the small vessels of the brain. It is a slowly progressing disease that gradually lead to cognitive impairment, physical disabilities and emotion change with ageing.

The sleep-related mechanisms promoting CSVD are not yet clear, but it is thought that marked increases in blood pressure and heart rate via activation of the sympathetic nervous system that occurred during sleep arousals in ageing people is a key factor. Because sleep quality decreases with normal ageing, and older adults take longer to fall asleep, have lighter sleep and more frequent arousals that fragment sleep, the primary aim of this project is to determine the role of nocturnal cardiovascular surges in the development of small vessel vasculopathy in CSVD that leads to pre-clinical neurological dysfunction.

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Poor sleep, neurovascular injury and cognitive decline

Cerebral small vessel disease imaging

Cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) is a common feature of the ageing brain. It affects the small vessels of the brain and causes up to 45% of dementia and 20% of strokes. Management of the traditional risk factors of CSVD is still the main approach for treating or preventing CSVD, because there is evidence that brain damage can be reversed or delayed in the early stages of the disease.

The diagnosis and monitoring of CSVD relies on imaging findings. However, there is currently no MRI protocol able to identify early stage CSVD or to monitor disease progression in the early stages, when disease management would be of most benefit. In fact, more advanced imaging techniques are required to detect a subtler level of damage, when brain damage can still be reversed with medical and lifestyle interventions.

Thus, the aim of this project is to develop an advanced imaging protocol to characterise the burden of early CSVD in mid-life. Each MR imaging technique in this new protocol focuses on one mechanistic aspect of vascular damage including gross structural changes in the grey and white matter, fine structural changes in white matter and brain microvasculature neurochemical and perfusion abnormalities.

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Cerebral small vessel disease imaging

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Imaging

We have developed novel imaging methods to measure the stiffness and movement of the upper airway muscles, and are using these together with measures of pharyngeal sensation, and electromyography to determine the patient-specific causes of obstructive sleep apnoea. We aim to use this information to tailor treatments for patients. One such treatment is a mandibular advancement splint, but currently it’s not possible to predict who will benefit from use a splint. We have a major project that aims to predict splint treatment outcome, based on our novel imaging methods.• Honours and PhD projects are available to study the neural, biomechanical and physiological aspects of obstructive sleep apnoea, including computational modelling

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Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Imaging

Magnetic resonance elastography

We have developed new MRI methods to measure the mechanical properties of soft tissues (Magnetic Resonance Elastography or MRE). So far, MRE has been used to measure the stiffness of the brain, muscles and other tissues. We continue to develop new approaches, such as combining elastography with Diffusion Tensor Imaging to measure the anisotropic properties of muscles and brain white matter tracts, and how this changes in muscle and neurological disorders. We have discovered that there are changes in tissue stiffness in hydrocephalus (a brain disorder), obstructive sleep apnoea, and degenerative muscle conditions (muscular dystrophy). We are currently working on new methods to measure tissue properties under loading. Honours and PhD projects are available both for developing new methods (to suit engineers and physicists) or in applying these techniques to study clinical disorders.

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Magnetic resonance elastography

Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus is a neurological disorder where the ventricles in the brain enlarge, often due to obstruction to cerebrospinal fluid flow pathways in the brain. However, the biological and biomechanical mechanisms are not well understood, and treatment is currently unsatisfactory, with patients undergoing multiple shunt surgeries. We are studying how brain stiffness and oedema are involved in the development of hydrocephalus, using magnetic resonance imaging, computational modelling and experimental models of hydrocephalus. Honours and PhD projects are available to study the biomechanical and basic biological mechanisms of hydrocephalus, using magnetic resonance imaging, experimental and computational modelling.

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Hydrocephalus

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RESEARCH TEAM

PUBLICATIONS

Covertly active and progressing neurochemical abnormalities in suppressed HIV infection.

Cysique LA, Jugé L, Gates T, Tobia M, Moffat K, Brew BJ, Rae C

To assess whether HIV-related brain injury is progressive in persons with suppressed HIV infection. Our study reveals covertly active or progressing HIV-related brain injury in the majority of this virally suppressed cohort, reflecting ongoing neuropathogenic processes that are only partially worsened by historical HAND and HIV duration. Longer-term studies will be important for determining the prognosis of these slowly evolving neurochemical abnormalities.

Covertly active and progressing neurochemical abnormalities in suppressed HIV infection.

Cysique LA, Jugé L, Gates T, Tobia M, Moffat K, Brew BJ, Rae C

To assess whether HIV-related brain injury is progressive in persons with suppressed HIV infection. Our study reveals covertly active or progressing HIV-related brain injury in the majority of this virally suppressed cohort, reflecting ongoing neuropathogenic processes that are only partially worsened by historical HAND and HIV duration. Longer-term studies will be important for determining the prognosis of these slowly evolving neurochemical abnormalities.

Development of acute hydrocephalus does not change brain tissue mechanical properties in adult rats, but in juvenile rats.

Pong AC, Jugé L, Bilston LE, Cheng S

This study showed that although brain tissue in the adult hydrocephalic rats was severely compressed, their brain tissue stiffness did not change significantly. These results are in contrast with our previous findings in juvenile hydrocephalic rats which had significantly less brain compression (as the brain circumference was able to stretch with the cranium due to the open skull sutures) and had a significant increase in caudate putamen stiffness. These results suggest that change in brain mechanical properties in hydrocephalus is complex and is not solely dependent on brain tissue deformation. Further studies on the interactions between brain tissue stiffness, deformation, tissue oedema and neural damage are necessary before MRE can be used as a tool to track changes in brain biomechanics in hydrocephalus.

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