• The MILEDI project involves teams of computational and experimental neuroscientists from:
  • Neuroscience Institute, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania (Project coordinator),
  • Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire/ Centre national de la Recherche Scientifique, Valbonne, France,
  • Institute of Biophysics, National Research Council, Palermo, Italy
  • in collaboration with the Human Brain Project.
  • Start date: 1 April 2020
  • Project duration: 3 years
Neuroscience institute, Lithuania
IPMC, France
MIUR, Italy
Neuron images for the title page provided courtesy of Dr. Christian Ebner
(NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany)

Aim and objectives

The project aims at developing a new multi-scale (integrated molecular, cellular and network levels) data-driven in silico model of the hippocampal CA1 region under Alzheimer’s disease conditions.

The main project objectives:

  1. Extend the experimental evidence of Amyloid beta (Aβ), Amyloid eta (Aη), Amyloid precursor protein C-terminal peptide (AICD)-related changes in the properties of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neuron synaptic plasticity, synaptic signal integration and neuronal excitability.
  2. Incorporate the dose-dependent effects of Alzheimer’s disease-related peptides into computational models of hippocampal synaptic plasticity, CA1 pyramidal neurons and CA1 network; determine and explain the molecular, synaptic, cellular, network-level mechanisms of altered hippocampal function that leads to impaired learning and progressive irreversible memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Identify and assess experimentally and by computational modeling potential targets for innovative treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Project Description

A stereo view of a CA1 pyramidal neuron.

Alzheimer’s disease affects over 46 million people worldwide, estimated to triple by the year 2050. It has a long preclinical stage and, before any clinical symptoms appear, pathological processes are observed in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, key brain structures responsible for memory encoding and retrieval. AD cannot be prevented, halted or cured today, and new interdisciplinary ways are urgently needed for the understanding and treatment of this devastating disease. Recent experimental evidence supports the fundamental role of Alzheimer’s disease-related peptides early in the pathology: in particular the most widely studied Amyloid beta (Aβ), and the less investigated Amyloid eta (Aη) and Amyloid precursor protein (APP) C-terminal peptide (AICD).

Their differential effects on synaptic function and intrinsic excitability of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neuron at a single cell level are currently being investigated. However, the dose-dependent impact and complex interaction effects of Aβ, Aη, AICD on hippocampal synaptic plasticity, CA1 network activity, memory encoding and retrieval capacity and dynamics remain largely unknown.

The interdisciplinary consortium will perform ex-vivo whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology recordings (Dr. Helene Marie, Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Valbonne, France), computational modeling of hippocampal synaptic plasticity (Prof. Ausra Saudargiene, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Lithuania), of neuronal excitability and of biologically realistic large-scale CA1 network (Prof. Michele Migliore, Institute of Biophysics, Palermo, Italy) under control and Alzheimer’s disease conditions. The consortium has a proven track-record of experimental, theoretical and computational expertise to successfully achieve these goals.

The project extends beyond the state-of-the-art by integrating ex-vivo experimental data into multi-scale in silico approaches to suggest potential targets for more effective treatments in the initial phase of Alzheimer’s disease. By including the models into the Brain Simulation Platform of the Human Brain Project, the project will provide to the community an essential multi-scale modelling tool for this devastating disease.

Ausra Saudargiene, PhD

Coordinator, Neuroscience Institute, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania

The Computational Neuroscience group, headed by Prof. Ausra Saudargiene, focuses on computational modeling of synaptic plasticity in hippocampus and cortex in health and in neurodegenerative disorders. Prof. Ausra Saudargiene developed biophysical and molecular models of synaptic plasticity in hippocampus and cortex, analyzed memory encoding and retrieval in hippocampal CA1 microcircuit.

Key Publications:
Saudargiene A, Graham BP. Factors affecting STDP learning rules in the ...

Hélène Marie, PhD

Hélène Marie, PhD

Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Valbonne, France

Dr Hélène Marie’s team is interested in understanding how physiological and pathological conditions shape neuronal plasticity. We have an integrated approach to delineate how molecular changes translate into behavioural outcomes. We have strong expertise in in vitro electrophysiology on brain slices (field and patch clamp recordings) and in behaviour. We use viral approaches for in vivo protein expression as well as transgenic lines to alter brain molecular mechanisms. We are also currently developing ...

Michele Migliore, PhD

Prof Michele Migliore

Institute of Biophysics, Palermo, Italy

Over the past 30 years the Computational Neuroscience Laboratory of CNR-IBF, headed by Prof. Michele Migliore, has been involved in the development and implementation of computational models of complex systems.

The broad long-term goal is to investigate, using realistic models and state of the art simulations techniques, the basic processes underlying the nervous system functions and dysfunctions. In close interdisciplinary collaboration with leading experimental laboratories, we investigate neuronal networks and single neurons at ...

This is the FLAG-ERA, the Flagship ERA-NET Joint Transnational Call JTC 2019 in synergy with the Human Brain Project.

National organisations funding the Project

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