Irina Vazquez-Villasenor

Generous funding from the BNS enabled Irina Vazquez-Villasenor to investigate “Neuronal Senescence as a Contributor to Neurodegeneration in Motor Neurone Disease”.

This study aimed to determine whether a persistent DNA damage response and senescence pathway activation are features of motor neurone disease (MND).

Using a standard immunohistological approach, the expression of senescence (p16 and p21) and DNA damage markers (8-OHdG and gH2AX) were examined.  While p16 was detected in the nuclei of glial cells, nuclear localisation of p21 was detected in both neurones and glia. Neither p16 nor p21 correlated with 8-OHdG or gH2AX DNA damage markers. These findings suggest that expression of p16 and p21 in glia may reflect activation of senescence pathways, while neuronal p21 expression might reflect a more general mechanism of age related cell cycle dysregulation.

Irina presented her research at the BNS meeting in 2016 and was awarded a prize for her poster. A manuscript of this work is currently under review in NAN.