Zebrafish Retina Neurovascular Unit
The retina, the light sensitive part of eyes, is critically important for vision. To achieve this, the retina requires an efficient system to bring in substrates (e.g. glucose) and remove potentially damaging metabolic waste (e.g. lactate). The neurovascular unit (NVU) is a complex multi-hetero-cellular structure consisting of neurons, glia, endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, pericytes, and extracellular matrix components. These components are intimately and reciprocally linked to each other, establishing a structural and functional unit, which results in a highly efficient system to regulate blood flow and metabolism. This system is known to break down in diseases, like diabetes, leading to dysfunction in the retina resulting in blindness. However, the intricate processes of how this system is built, or how it changes in disease are not fully understood.
This project aims to build an image-based model to describe neurovascular development in the zebrafish retina.
To achieve this, Elisabeth will work with Dr. Ryan MacDonald, Prof. John Greenwood, and Prof. Christiana Ruhrberg at UCL.
Review - Kugler E., Greenwood J, and MacDonald R.*, The ”Neuro-Glial-Vascular” Unit: The Role of Glia in Neurovascular Unit Formation and Dysfunction, Front. Cell Dev. Biol., 27 September 2021, https://doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2021.7328