Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Erika Calvo-Ochoa, Biology

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Parkinson's Disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by dopaminergic neuronal loss and motor impairment, affects roughly 1 in 500 people. Interestingly, olfaction loss, the loss of smell, is prevalent in over 95% of those with PD. Zebrafish provide a unique model to study neurodegenerative diseases, including PD, as they possess the unique ability to regenerate neurons (i.e., neurogenesis) throughout their lifespan. Contrary to mammals in which inflammation often has negative associations with neural injury recovery, inflammatory response within zebrafish is thought to have a key role in this regenerative capability. Thus, we aimed to inhibit the inflammatory response and investigate cell proliferation in the zebrafish olfactory bulbs following treatment with a neurotoxin. To do this, we used adult zebrafish of both sexes and injected 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), a neurotoxin that specifically targets dopaminergic neurons, into the cerebrospinal fluid at the ventricular zone. Pranlukast, an anti-inflammatory agent, was injected along 6-OHDA to reduce neurotoxin-associated inflammation. Immunohistochemistry was performed on 6-OHDA and pranlukast-treated fish as well as only 6-OHDA treated fish to assess cell proliferation and inflammatory markers. We predict that following 6-OHDA injection we will observe an increase in cell proliferation and inflammation in comparison to untreated fish. We also predict that fish treated with both 6-OHDA and pranlukast will have a weaker inflammatory response resulting in a decrease in cell proliferation in comparison to 6-OHDA only treated fish. GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein) was used to assess inflammation as it stains for astrocytes which are tied to the inflammatory response. Notably, astrocytes are stem cells within zebrafish, supporting the idea that inflammation and neurogenesis are correlated. This work aims to highlight the importance of the inflammatory response on the neurogenic capacity in zebrafish. Further research is needed to find distinct differences between zebrafish and mammalian models in the inflammatory response.


This research was supported by the Hope College Neuroscience Program and Biology Department.