Microstructural white matter alterations

Dr. Sanaz Gabery is a postdoctoral fellow focusing on a project where she is exploring the white matter alterations in the brain emerging in Huntington’s disease (HD). This is her project:

Changes appearing in HD are often related to a loss of grey matter (cell bodies) in the brain’s motor center. New research results have revealed that there are also changes in the brain’s white matter (axons), which is linking the cell bodies together. Furthermore, the white matter changes appear to arise in an early stage of the disease, before the grey matter alterations set in.

New research observations from Petersén’s group and others have disclosed that parts of the limbic system controlling our emotions, motivation and some of our thoughts can have a reduced function in HD. These changes may explain the origin of the early non-motor symptoms affecting a large number of HD-patients.This is the reason why we now are studying the white matter in the limbic system, by examining brains from diseased HD-patients as well as through experiments in the lab. We also perform different behavioural studies to map in detail the white matter alterations and their effect on the progress of the disease.We hope that these studies can determine whether the white matter in the limbic system can be a contributory cause to the progress of HD, and we also hope that the results will lead us to an innovative therapy.

Sanaz Gabery is a post doc in Professor Åsa Petersén’s research group at Lund University, and she defended her doctoral thesis 2015 in the same group. Sanaz has worked at Novo Nordisk A/S as Research Scientist and returned in 2017 to Lund University. In 2018 she was awarded a post-doctoral stipend from Hjärnfonden (the Brain Foundation), and she is now combining her research with medical studies at Lund University.