All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Michelle L Olsen

Advisory Committee Members

Vladimir Parpura

Vithal K Ghanta

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2016

Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering (MSBME) School of Engineering

Abstract

Rett Syndrome (RTT) is an X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a mutation in the transcriptional regulator methyl CPG binding protein 2 (MECP2) gene that affects 1 in 10,000 female live births annually. RTT patients experience seemingly normal development for the first 12-18 months of life; this period of normal development is followed by developmental regression. The symptoms of Rett syndrome include severe cognitive deficits, seizures, loss of ambulation and gross motor skills, breathing abnormalities, hand stereotopies and gastrointestinal dysmotility. The basic science research for this disorder has focused almost exclusively on neuronal mechanisms, leaving limited understating of the role of other cell types. In this study, we examined the state of other cell types in this disease, specifically astrocytes. Examination of astrocyte morphology in the hippocampus revealed no difference in complexity when assessed with Sholl analysis. We further investigated astrocyte cell numbers in two regions of the brain, hippocampus and the motor cortex. Following analysis we discovered a trending decrease in the astrocyte to neuron ratio (p = 0.0512) in the hippocampus and a trending increase in astrocyte to neuron ratio (p = 0.0669) in the motor cortex. Our results suggest that astrocyte cell numbers, specifically astrocyte to neuron ratios, might be altered in the disease and could prove as an interesting new avenue of study for the disease.

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