BSc Neuroscience / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Neuroinflammation in Health & Disease (E)

Unit code BIOL31612
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This unit will provide you with an extensive knowledge of the role of inflammation in nervous system health and disease. You will gain an understanding of the important role of inflammatory molecules as key mediators of central nervous system (CNS) functions and of inflammatory responses to, and pathogenesis of, acute and chronic nervous system disorders. The development of new therapeutic interventions to treat all major nervous system disorders (i.e. stroke, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease) is a major field of research in neuroinflammation of which you will be acquainted with. The topics covered in this unit range from ’Introduction to neuroinflammation’ to ‘Chronic CNS disorders’.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Excitable Cells BIOL10832 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Drugs & the Brain BIOL21312 Pre-Requisite Recommended
BIOL31612 Pre-requisite is BIOL10832

Aims

The aim of the unit is to provide an extensive knowledge of the role of inflammation in nervous system health and disorders. Inflammation is involved in many central nervous system (CNS)-regulated physiological processes (including energy balance, sleep, memory and synaptic plasticity), and is a key host defence response to acute and chronic peripheral and central disorders. Research into neuroinflammation is a major field that aims to develop new therapeutic interventions to treat all major nervous system disorders including stroke, brain trauma, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and neuropathies (for which there is currently no or limited treatments). This unit will cover the important role of inflammatory molecules as key mediators of CNS functions and will provide basic knowledge on the pathogenesis of, and inflammatory responses to acute and chronic nervous system disorders.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

• Describe the role of inflammation in key biological functions and pathological conditions

• Describe the main inflammatory mediator families and the role of some key inflammatory molecules

• Describe CNS-regulated physiological functions that are mediated by inflammatory mediators

• Describe the pathogenesis of, and inflammatory response to acute and chronic central and peripheral nervous system disorders.

• Demonstrate knowledge in the clinical assessment and management of neuroinflammation, and therapeutic approaches

Syllabus

Introduction to neuroinflammation - These lectures will provide a general introduction to neuroinflammation, including description of inflammatory mediators (cytokines, chemokines and adhesion molecules), mechanisms of production and action in the brain (receptors, signalling pathways and downstream effects) and cell-cell interactions.

Neuroimmune interactions and normal brain functions - These lectures will describe the function of inflammatory mediators during sleep, memory, long-term potentiation, synaptic plasticity, and host defence response to infection and injury. Communications from the immune system to the brain and associated behavioural changes including fever, anorexia, lethargy, depression and sickness behaviour will also be covered.

Inflammation in chronic brain disorders - These lectures will describe the mechanisms of inflammation during chronic brain disorders including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, with an emphasis on disease pathogenesis and current therapeutic approaches.

Peripheral inflammation - These lectures will describe the mechanisms of neuropathic pain with a focus on neuroimmune interactions in peripheral nerve.

Inflammation in acute brain injury - These lectures will describe the acute neuroinflammatory response that occurs during acute brain injury such as stroke. The mechanisms of neurovascular unit dysfunction, neuronal plasticity, glial scar, neurogenesis and angiogenesis will be addressed. Finally, these lectures will provide knowledge on the use of brain imaging (e.g. MRI, PET) and clinical assessment of neuroinflammation (CSF and plasma markers) used in patient management and therapeutic applications.

Employability skills

Problem solving
Students have to solve some problems based on some e-learning exercises
Research
The lectures the students are given contain some current research that in some cases is the lecturers own research.
Written communication
As part of an e-learning exercise students have to write a brief summary of a scientific seminar.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 90%
Set exercise 10%

Written examination: 2 hour written examination (90%) consisting of 4 short answer questions (out of 6) and 1 essay (out of 5)

Set exercise – Online coursework assessments: Four eLearning exercises (10%) consisting of MCQs supported by online learning materials

Feedback methods

Students will access 1 online neuroscience seminar on related matters, and will subsequently write up 1 essay (no more than 2 pages, and individual feedback will be provided in the form of formative and summative assessment. In addition, there will be 4 eLearning activities (cases related to 4 themes of lectures). Students will read online material on several topics (enquiry-based learning), and will answer MCQs through Blackboard. A feedback session for each e-learning case will provide answers and give more information each topic, and students will be able to receive immediate feedback on their activity and performance by talking to teaching staff. In addition, students will receive feedback on overall performance in the form of the final mark for the unit and will receive individual feedback from their advisor.

Recommended reading

•       Up-to-date relevant review articles recommended in lectures (available on Blackboard).

 

•       Wood, P, Understanding Immunology (3rd Edition), Prentice Hall, 2011, Optional

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Catherine Lawrence Unit coordinator

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