Understanding the journey of bacterial extracellular vesicles from the gut to the brain and the implications for neurodegenerative disease
The gut microbiome is hypothesised to play a central proinflammatory role in many neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), however the mechanisms that mediate this inflammation remain unknown. We propose bacterial extracellular vesicles (EVs) as a bacterial mediator that can traverse the gut lumen to drive the local, systemic, and neural inflammation that contributes to progression of neurodegenerative disease. New methodology to isolate bacterial vesicles has allowed us to investigate this for the first time.
The aim of this project is to investigate bacterial extracellular vesicles in multiple models of Parkinson’s disease and clinical samples. To this end, student participants will isolate bacterial EVs from in vitro and ex vivo sources and study their function using cell models, and composition with genomic sequencing. The student will learn techniques including bacterial culture, extracellular vesicle isolation and characterisation (western blotting, density gradient and electron microscopy) and cell culture assays.
This work has implications in all diseases where the gut-brain axis is believed to play a role, as bacterial extracellular vesicles could be the link between microbiotic dysbiosis in the gut, inflammation and neurological dysfunction.