The National Centre for Research and Development



CORE; Programme area: health; ID: 196190



Project title: Contribution of glutamine transport to brain edema and dysfunction of the glutamatergic synapse associated with hepatic encephalopathy


Acronym: Hepentrans


Project Promoter: Mossakowski Medical Research Centre Polish Academy of Sciences


Polish partners: -


Norwegian Partners: University Of Oslo, Institute Of Basic Medical Sciences


Project cost (EUR): 871 421


Grant amount (EUR): 871 421

Duration: 45 months






Project summary:

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a complex neurological disease, is a severe epidemiological and economic burden, affecting almost 1 million people in EU countries. The main cause of this disease is insufficient liver function that leads to accumulation of toxins in the blood, which penetrate to the brain and later harm the central nervous system. While patients with chronic HE suffer from learning and memory deficiency, HE associated with acute liver failure is associated with rapidly developing brain edema, which leads to death in at least 40%  of cases. Astrocytes, the cells which in the brain carry out the supporting and function-modulating tasks with regard to nerve cells (neurons), are the target of the disease. Most significantly the increase of astrocytic cell volume, which is a direct cause brain edema, has been shown to be due to excessive accumulation of the amino acid glutamine. In neurons, glutamine is a substrate for synthesis of glutamate, and astrocytes are necessary for normal supplying of glutamine to neurons for glutamate synthesis. In this project we will test the hypothesis that key events underlying the above mentioned brain dysfunctions are linked to impaired astrocyte-to-nerve cell (neuron) transport of glutamine, a process mediated by a specific transporting protein designated SN1. In the project we will use the newly constructed transgenic mice with switched-off the special glutamine carrier SN1. While this project does not bring direct practical solutions, finding out the exact function of the SN1 glutamine carrier may offer a potential target for therapeutic intervention in patients.


The National Centre for Research and Development
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