Project Title: The Role of Autophagy in Traumatic Brain Injury and Hypothermia
Student: Emily Scott ’16
Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Yates
Autophagy, or intracellular degradation, is the decomposition and recycling of cells that is necessary for balanced and healthy cellular activity. However, autophagy can lead to an imbalance between cell death and regeneration in degenerative and other disorders. Research on the specific role of autophagy in degenerative disorders is lacking and the effect of hypothermia therapy has not yet been determined. In this study, a cortical contusion impact (CCI) model of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and therapeutic hypothermia were induced in an animal model. Barnes maze was used to test memory function changes. Real Time PCR (qPCR) and western blot analysis were used to reveal changes in autophagy related genes and proteins within the brain. The results will help determine the physiological and pathological role of autophagy within the brain in cases of CCI-induced TBI and the ability of therapeutic hypothermia to regulate the process. Comparisons on gene and protein levels, as well as memory behavior performance, were made between the CCI and hypothermia group, the CCI-only group, the hypothermia-only group, and the control group.