Effects of smoking and preeclampsia on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in the placenta.

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Summary

This study will compare the expression of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in the smoking and non-smoking placenta, and between normal and preeclamptic placentas with the long term goal of understanding the mechanism of cigarette smoke induced effects on the fetus and seeking therapeutic avenues for preeclampsia.

Supervisor(s)

Dr Rita Machaalani

Research Location

Camperdown - School of Medical Sciences - Bosch Institute

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

Cigarette smoking during pregnancy continues to be a major public health issue, despite strong campaigning and warnings against it. The adverse health outcomes of smoking during pregnancy are predominantly on the baby including low birth weight, intra uterine growth restriction (IUGR), increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), increased heart, breathing and brain abnormalities, and increased nicotine dependence. Surprisingly, cigarette smoking has consistently been linked with a reduced risk of preeclampsia (PE). How and why this is so, is still unknown. PE is a common pregnancy-related disease, where its main symptoms are increased blood pressure and protein excretion in the urine. It is a leading cause of health problems and death of mother and child in Australia, with effects on the baby being increased predisposition to complications in adult life including risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and brain damage (for example, risk of schizophrenia).Nicotine is believed to be the main toxic agent of cigarettes causing these problems, most likely by interacting with its nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR). Currently, there has been very little research on the nAChRs in the placenta, of which, there are currently 12 subunits. AIM: This study will compare the expression of these receptors in the smoking and non-smoking placenta, and between normal and PE placentas with the long term goal of understanding the mechanism of smoke induced effects on the fetus and seeking therapeutic avenues for PE.

Additional Information

  • This project is a collaboration between two research groups: SIDS & Sleep Apnea laboratory, Bosch Institute,  University of Sydney (USYD), and Preeclampsia Research Laboratory, Heart Research Institute (HRI).
  •  The bulk of the research will be conducted on the Main Campus of USYD. 
  • Main Laboratory technique will be real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
  • Candidate should have an Honours 1 or 2A degree in Science or a related field.
  • Experience in PCR is required. 
  • The candidate will be expected to obtain their own scholarship with our assistance in the applications.

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Keywords

cigarette smoking, nicotine, pediatrics, Pregnancy, placenta, PCR, SIDS

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1163