Compartmentalised calcium handling in dopamine neurons: importance for selective vulnerability in Parkinson?s


  • Prof Richard Wade-Martins

    University of Oxford, United Kingdom

  • Prof Stephanie Cragg

    University of Oxford, United Kingdom

  • Dr Peter Magill

    University of Oxford, United Kingdom

  • Prof Birgit Liss

    Universitat Ulm, Germany

  • Prof Josef Kittler

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

Nerve cells producing the chemical dopamine are essential for many behaviours. These nerve cells are also particularly vulnerable in Parkinson’s disease, but we do not know exactly why. However, we think the ways these cells deal with calcium ions is a vital piece of the Parkinson’s puzzle.

We are an international team of scientists who have come together in this project to provide new and detailed information about how dopamine-producing nerve cells operate in health and Parkinson’s. Working with human cells in a dish and animal models, we will study the whole length of these nerve cells and different ‘compartments’ within them. We will reveal how calcium enters cells and is handled by them to generate electrical/chemical signals, and how these and other processes linked to calcium go awry in Parkinson’s. If we knew more about why these nerve cells are vulnerable, we might be able to stop them dying.