20/04/2016 - 12:00 - Auditori PRBB

Rembrandt: Remodelling brain development in intellectual disability

Scientific sessions, CRG Group Leader Seminars

Mara Dierssen

Cellular and Systems Neurobiology Group, Systems Biology Programme, CRG

Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic form of intellectual disability, with an estimated incidence of more than 200,000 cases per year worldwide. In DS brain, suboptimal network architecture and altered synaptic communication arising from neurodevelopmental impairment are key determinants of cognitive defects. Regardless of their molecular cause, most DSs are characterized by neural plasticity disruption, and therefore this is a natural target for therapeutic purposes. Our group has demonstrated that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the most abundant catechin of green tea, promotes learning and memory recovery, produces extensive dendritic remodeling in DS mouse models and significantly improves memory, executive functions and adaptive behavior along with increased functional connectivity in specific brain regions of DS adults (Phase I and Phase II clinical trials). This has been a crucial step in treating intellectual disability that has opened new important questions.

Short bio:
Mara Dierssen (MD, PhD) is medical doctor by training and obtained her PhD in Neurobiology from the University of Cantabria. She heads the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology group of the Systems Biology Program at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona. The overall goal of Prof. Dierssen research is to understand cognition and behavior as emergent properties of the neuronal networks and how genetic perturbation in mental disorders modifies the way the brain integrates information to produce behavior. She is a world expert in the field of neurobiology and pharmacology and has made landmark contributions to the understanding the neuropathology of Down syndrome.