Neurodegeneration and regeneration

Understanding the physiopathology of neurodegenerative diseases in animal models & development of stem cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases

Principal Investigator

Prof. Charles Nicaise

UNamur, Department of medicine, Molecular Physiology Research Unit (URPhyM), Laboratory Neurodegeneration and Regeneration (LNR) 

Research portal UNamur  |  ORCID  |  ResearchGate  |  LinkedIn

Expertise and research interests

Prof. Charles Nicaise is head of the Laboratory Neurodegeneration and Regeneration (LNR), devoted to the understanding of the physiopathology of neurological disorders in animal models and to the development of stem cell-based therapies.

His laboratory has an interest in examining the in vivo role played by glial cells and their function in glutamate homeostasis during osmotic demyelination syndrome (ODS) and spinal cord injuries (SCI). We recently focused on System Xc-, a cystine/glutamate antiporter, involved in both antioxidant defense and glutamate neurotransmission regulation. Employing a multidisciplinary approach that includes animal models, transgenic and knockout mouse models, stem cell transplantation (glial-restricted precursors cells or iPS-derived neural precursors), intraspinal viral vector-based manipulation of glutamate transporter levels and extensive histological, biochemical, behavioral and in vivo physiological analyses, their goal is to both characterize the roles played by these glial glutamate transporters in clinically-relevant models of ODS or SCI.

The lab has developed a broad expertise in generating rodent models of cervical contusive spinal cord injuries. In this context, another topic-of-interest is the characterization of innovative non-invasive imaging modalities aimed at quantifying neuronal or synaptic loss following spinal cord injury e.g. synchrotron x-ray phase-contrast tomography, SV2A PET imaging using [11C]UCB-J.

Group members

PhD students: Nicolas Halloin, Lindsay Sprimont

Scientific collaborator: Prof. emeritus Jacques Gilloteaux

Research projects

  • Unraveling the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2-induced autoimmunity. Collaborative research project between Prof. Charles Nicaise, UNamur, NARILIS and Prof. Nicolas Gillet, UNamur, NARILIS
  • ONGOING Tau pathology in repetitive mild spinal cord injuries. Ongoing PhD thesis by Nicolas Halloin. Under the supervision by Prof. Charles Nicaise, UNamur, NARILIS
  • ONGOING System Xc− as a novel therapeutic target for spinal cord injuries. Ongoing PhD thesis by Lindsay Sprimont. Under the supervision by Prof. Charles Nicaise, UNamur, NARILIS.
  • ONGOING Quantification of neuronal loss and lesion extension following experimental spinal cord injury using Synchrotron X-ray phase-contrast tomography. Research collaboration between UNamur (Prof. Charles Nicaise) and IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia in Italy (Dr. Michela Fratini).
  • ONGOING In vivo evaluation of [11C]UCB-J for PET imaging of synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A (SV2A) following spinal cord injury. Research collaboration between UNamur (Prof. Charles Nicaise) and UAntwerp (Dr. Daniele Bertoglio, Prof. Steven Staelens)

Selected publications

Sprimont L, Janssen P, De Swert K, Van Bulck M, Rooman I, Gilloteaux J, Massie A, Nicaise C. Cystine-glutamate antiporter deletion accelerates motor recovery and improves histological outcomes following spinal cord injury in mice. Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 9;11(1):12227.

Scalisi J, Balau B, Deneyer L, Bouchat J, Gilloteaux J, Nicaise C. Blood-brain barrier permeability towards small and large tracers in a mouse model of osmotic demyelination syndrome. Neurosci Lett. 2021 Feb 16;746:135665.

Gilloteaux J, Bouchat J, Brion JP, Nicaise C. The osmotic demyelination syndrome: the resilience of thalamic neurons is verified with transmission electron microscopy. Ultrastruct Pathol. 2021 Jan 3:1-31.

Bouchat J, Gilloteaux J, Suain V, Van Vlaender D, Brion JP, Nicaise C. Ultrastructural Analysis of Thalamus Damages in a Mouse Model of Osmotic-Induced Demyelination. Neurotox Res. 2019 Jul;36(1):144-162.

Bouchat J, Couturier B, Marneffe C, Gankam-Kengne F, Balau B, De Swert K, Brion JP, Poncelet L, Gilloteaux J, Nicaise C. Regional oligodendrocytopathy and astrocytopathy precede myelin loss and blood-brain barrier disruption in a murine model of osmotic demyelination syndrome. Glia. 2018 Mar;66(3):606-622.