Picture of Michael Briese and Philip Tovote. Photo: private

How Parkinson's changes the brain

Philip Tovote studies the disease's effects on the brain stem

Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that causes severe deficits in movement and tremors, but also a multitude of non-motor symptoms. A hallmark is the loss of neurons in the substantia nigra (SN), a midbrain region that mediates motor functions. While this change is well characterized, less is known about what happens in other brain regions. In the brain stem, for example, cell loss occurs early and is associated with a number of non-motor symptoms, such as sleep disturbances.

In his project at the Single-Cell Center Würzburg, Philip Tovote from the Institute of Clinical Neurobiology at the University Hospital Würzburg wants to investigate the pathological changes in the brain stem in detail. Together with Michael Briese, also from the Institute of Clinical Neurobiology, he is conducting RNA-Seq studies on single cell nuclei. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that lead to the loss of neurons in brain stem regions is crucial for the treatment of the resulting symptoms and for the development of new therapeutic approaches.