The 28th seminar of the CIBM Breakfast and Science Seminar Series was held on September 27, 2022, featuring a presentation by Dunja Simicic, titled: Brain regional vulnerability in the rat brain during type C hepatic encephalopathy: from metabolic to cellular scale. Dunja Simicic is Research Staff Scientist, CIBM MRI EPFL

Simicic DunjaBrain regional vulnerability in the rat brain during type C hepatic encephalopathy: from metabolic to cellular scale

Dunja Simicic,
Research Staff Scientist, CIBM MRI EPFL

Abstract: Type C hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a complication of chronic liver disease, characterized by cognitive and motor deficits which is difficult to diagnose in its early stages. Worldwide, the incidence of chronic liver disease is increasing in adults, and children with the disease now live to adulthood. Children and adults respond differently to the disease and its related toxic accumulation of molecules (i.e. ammonium, glutamine, cytokines, etc). Despite considerable advances in understanding the pathogenesis of type C HE, the exact metabolic mechanisms and their regional variations are not completely understood. Therefore, we used the advantages of ultra-high field of 9.4 T and short echo time 1H-MR Spectroscopy (1H- MRS) to describe and report changes in metabolic profiles during the disease evolution in multiple brain regions using a rat model of type C HE (adult and developing brain). Three brain regions were assessed (hippocampus, cerebellum and striatum) pointing towards cerebellum as the most affected region with a unique metabolic response. In addition, we followed the changes in cell morphology using histology measurements and electron microscopy, and related them to the observed metabolic alterations. Finally, our measurements of the brain during development showed its higher susceptibility to the disease and an increased vulnerability of cerebellum, since the observed metabolic alterations were more profound compared to the adult brain.

About the Speaker: Dunja Simicic obtained her Bachelor degree at the Faculty of Science in Engineering Physics in 2015 and her Master’s degree in Biophysics at the University of Split, Croatia in 2017. She completed her Master project at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in the Laboratory of Physics of Complex Matter, after which she became an EPFL Physics PhD candidate in the Laboratory of Functional and Metabolic Imaging and CIBM Center for Biomedical Imaging in 2017 under the supervision of Dr. Cristina Cudalbu and Prof. Rolf Gruetter. Her thesis research aimed on developing new acquisition and quantification techniques for in vivo proton and phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy and metabolic imaging. Her research also focused on studying chronic hepatic encephalopathy and brain macromolecules. She defended her PhD thesis in 2022, and continues to pursue her research interests as a CIBM research staff.

The monthly meet-up seminar series is a great environment to ask questions or to share insights on challenges and solutions. It’s also a good way to broaden and enrich professional networks.

Revisit past seminars and stay tuned for the exciting CIBM Breakfast and Science Seminar Series upcoming this year. 

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