Serotonergic neuron activation by hypoxia - NSCI 396 Undergraduate Research Project Application Form

Supervisor's Name: Maria Pompeiano

Supervisor's Email: maria.pompeiano [at]

Supervisor's Phone: 514-398 6080

Supervisor's Website:

Supervisor's department: Psychology

Course number: NSCI 396 (Neuroscience)

Term: Winter 2013-2014

Project start date: Monday, January 6, 2014

Project end date: Friday, April 11, 2014

Project title: Serotonergic neuron activation by hypoxia

Project description (50-100 words suggested): In mammals, the serotonergic neurons of the medullary Raphe are vital for temperature homeostasis and participate in the hypothermic, hypometabolic, and cardiorespiratory responses to hypoxia. In adult rats, hypoxia induces 5HT neuron activation (revealed by cFos immunoreactivity) in the raphe magnus (B3), raphe pallidus (B1), and nearby parapyramidal neurons, particularly in the more rostral areas, but not in the raphe obscurus (B2). The present project aims at studying a possible activation of regulatory serotonergic neurons in embryos exposed to hypoxia, by using double-labelling fluorescent immunohistochemistry with antibodies against tryptophan hydroxylase (marker for serotonergic neurons) and cFos (a marker of neuronal activity). The physiological responses to hypoxia are similar in adults and embryos, with an important difference in the respiratory responses. In fact, adults increase respiratory movement while embryos decreases them following hypoxia exposure. We will test the hypothesis that serotonergic neurons of the raphe pallidus will be activated by hypoxia (as seen by an increased cFos expression) as compared to normoxia controls while the raphe magnus will show the opposite reaction. In fact, the raphe magnus appears to be responsible for the hypoxic ventilatory response in adults.

Prerequisite: 1 term completed at McGill + CGPA of 3.0 or higher; or permission of instructor.

Grading scheme (The final report must be worth at least 50% of final grade): Final grade shall be based on an evaluation of laboratory performance (50%) and a final written report (50%).

Project status: This project is taken.

Ethics, safety, and training: Supervisors are responsible for the ethics and safety compliance of undergraduate students. This project involves handling chemicals.