Brain Autoimmunity Laboratory, Kids Neuroscience Centre, Kids Research at the Children's Hospital at Westmead (Sydney Children's Hospitals Network)

Lab head: A/Prof Fabienne Brilot-Turville
Location: Kids Research at the Children's Hospital at Westmead

Lab members: F Brilot-Turville (inmr-nit), R Dale (inmr-nit),
Funding: NHRMC, the Star Scientific Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia, Tourette Sydnrome Association USA
Research approach equipment: Our focus is to identify autoantibodies and to understand their role in the brain disease. Our group is part of the Kids Neurosciences Centre at Kids Research (the Children's Hospital at Westmead) and we are affiliated to the Brain and Mind Centre (Used). Kids Research is a global leading USyd-affiliated translational research centre. It is located at the heart of the Westmead campus in a new building besides the Children's Hospital at Westmead. Also present on the Westmead campus are the Westmead Institute for Medical Research and the Children Medical Research Institute. Kids Research is part of the Westmead Research Hub and shares state-of-the-art Hub facilities including flow cytometry, imaging, genomics, and proteomics cores.

Dale RC*, Tantsis EM*, Merheb V, Kumaran RY, Sinmaz N, Pathmanandavel K, Ramanathan S, Booth DR, Wienholt LA, Prelog K, Clark DR, Guillemin GJ, Lim CK, Mathey EK, Brilot F. Antibodies to MOG have a demyelination phenotype and affect oligodendrocyte cytoskeleton. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflammation2014 May 22;1(1):e12, doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000012 *Contributed equally to this work.

Pathmanandavel K, Starling J, Merheb V, Ramanathan S, Sinmaz S, Dale RC, Brilot F. Antibodies to surface dopamine-2 receptor and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor in the first episode of acute psychosis in children. Biol Psychiatry. 2015 Mar 15;77(6):537-47

Ramanathan S, Dale RC, Brilot F. Anti-MOG antibody: the history, clinical phenotype, and pathogenicity of a serum biomarker for demyelination. Autoimmun Rev. 2016 Apr;15(4):307-24

Sinmaz N, Amatoury M, Merheb V, Ramanathan S, Dale RC, Brilot F. Autoantibodies in Movement and Psychiatric Disorders: Updated Concepts in Detection Methods, Pathogenicity, and CNS Entry. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 Sep;1351:22-38. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12764. Epub 2015 Jun 17

Maternal cell surface autoantibodies and association with neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disease in offspring.

Primary supervisor: Fabienne Brilot-Turville

Autism and associated neuropsychiatric problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette syndrome are common neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric problems that affect 1% of the population, have a major impact on society, and at present have no cure. These conditions have both genetic and environmental factors. One emerging hypothesis is termed ‘maternal immune activation- MIA’ which states that an over-active immune system in the pregnant mother can alter the fetal brain development, and result in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric problems in the offspring. This hypothesis is supported by human epidemiological studies and animal models, however the specific immune process in humans is yet to be defined. We have recruited mothers who have organ-specific autoimmune disorders who have children with neurodevelopmental disorders (n=20). We will examine the maternal blood (and matched controls) for autoantibodies that bind to the cell surface of fetal and infant rat neurons and glia. This Honours project will involve learning techniques involved in neuronal and glial cell culture, flow cytometry and microscopy. Defining a specific immune process could improve identification and treatment of ‘at risk’ pregnancies to prevent permanent neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric problems in the offspring.

Discipline: Applied Medical Sciences, Westmead
Co-supervisors: Russell Dale
Keywords: Neuroimmunology, Neurosciences, Autoimmunity