Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Plasticity of the nervous system in physiologic and pathophysiologic conditions

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.03.00  Medical sciences  Neurobiology   

Code Science Field
B640  Biomedical sciences  Neurology, neuropsychology, neurophysiology 

Code Science Field
3.01  Medical and Health Sciences  Basic medicine 
atrial fibrillation, autonomic nervous system, cognition, collateral sprouting, conformational disorders, dopaminergic system, heart rate variability, neurodegeneration, neurogenic inflammation, nociceptors, parkinsonism, peripheral nerve injury, placebo response, synaptotagmins, trophic factors
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (24)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  50627  Peter Atanackov  Neurobiology  Junior researcher  2017 - 2018 
2.  15151  PhD Fajko Bajrović  Neurobiology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  336 
3.  33910  Mateja Benčina Pirnat    Technical associate  2015 - 2018 
4.  10428  PhD Mara Bresjanac  Neurobiology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  247 
5.  32093  PhD Maja Derlink  Medical sciences  Researcher  2015 - 2018  30 
6.  21902  Tanja Despotović    Technical associate  2015 - 2018 
7.  21621  Mateja Drolec-Novak    Technical associate  2015 - 2018 
8.  17921  Darinka Javornik    Technical associate  2015 - 2016 
9.  38242  PhD Kaja Kolmančič  Neurobiology  Junior researcher  2015 - 2018  16 
10.  22360  PhD Uroš Kovačič  Medical sciences  Researcher  2015 - 2018  197 
11.  32012  PhD Veronika Kragelj  Medical sciences  Researcher  2015 
12.  17923  Vanja Mavrin    Technical associate  2015 - 2018 
13.  27755  PhD Roman Paškulin  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2017  85 
14.  05380  PhD Zvezdan Pirtošek  Neurobiology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  745 
15.  07090  PhD Mara Popović  Neurobiology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  306 
16.  18323  PhD Peter Pregelj  Psychiatry  Researcher  2015 - 2018  363 
17.  08010  PhD Samo Ribarič  Neurobiology  Head  2015 - 2018  305 
18.  04293  PhD Janez Rozman  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2015 - 2018  245 
19.  36541  PhD Alojz Šmid  Oncology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  74 
20.  33100  PhD Larisa Tratnjek  Neurobiology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  62 
21.  33551  Ferida Vučkić    Technical associate  2015 - 2018 
22.  21503  PhD Maja Zorović  Neurobiology  Researcher  2017 - 2018  71 
23.  27569  PhD Tilen Žele  Medical sciences  Researcher  2015 - 2018  81 
24.  08289  PhD Marko Živin  Neurobiology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  233 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0312  University Medical Centre Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5057272000  77,351 
2.  0381  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine  Ljubljana  1627066  48,188 
3.  1326  ITIS, Implantable Technology and Sensors, producing, trading, servicing and researching enterprise, d.o.o. Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5824796000  245 
Many neurodegenerative diseases, for example Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, affect not only an isolated segment of the nervous system but cause complex and widespread changes in the interactions among the central, autonomous and peripheral nervous system. Therefore, to fully understand the signs and symptoms related to neurodegenerative diseases, and to develop effective treatment and diagnostic protocols, it is necessary to understand the physiology and pathophysiology of all three nervous systems. The programme will build on and expand the translational research of the mechanisms, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to neural disorders, accentuating the means and mechanisms to enhance the physiological and restorative plasticity. The study of central nervous system plasticity will follow five lines of exploration: (1) research of established and newly developed molecular probes in diagnosing conformational brain disorders; (2) nonpharmacological approaches to modulating central nervous system plasticity by determining responses and mechanisms involved in placebo and induced mindfulness effects, (3) research on neural plasticity induction through endogenous trophic signaling; (4) research on the concomitant effects of dopaminergic drugs and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; (5) investigation of the role of sinaptotagmins and Nova in pathogenesis and treatment of schyzophrenia and Parkinson disease. The study of autonomic nervous system plasticity will follow two lines of exploration: (1) research on the effects of meditation on heart rate variability and heart rate recovery after physical exercise; and (2) mapping of the distribution of neural routes by which the vagus nerve supplies ganglionic plexuses at the the pulmonary veins to develop new therapeutic interventions for treating atrial fibrillation. The study of peripheral nerve plasticity will follow three lines of exploration: (1) identification of factors which increase the ingrowth of axons into the recipient nerve after peripheral nerve injury; (2) research on the influence of aging on morphological and neurochemical properties of trigeminal neurons and (3) evaluation of the neurogenic contribution to local inflammation in human peridontitis.
Significance for science
A. Research on the plasticity of the central nervous system The proposed research contributes toward the: (1) improved understanding of mechanisms involved in neural plasticity induction through endogenous trophic signalling; (2) development of new diagnostic procedures through the development and refinement of molecular probes for diagnosing conformational brain disorders; (3) development of new, nonpharmacological therapeutic approaches to schizophrenia and Parkinson disease by determining the responses and mechanisms involved in placebo and induced mindfulness effects and by evaluating the therapeutic effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation. Furthermore, the proposed studies will increase our understanding of the role of synaptotagmin and Nova proteins in regulating synaptic plasticity of the dopaminergic system in schizophrenia and Parkinson disease. B. Research on the plasticity of the autonomic nervous system The results of planned research on the effects of alternative ways of meditation (i.e. prayer) on the modulation of the autonomic nervous system will contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms of action of the autonomic nervous system and its connections with the limbic system in humans. The results of selective vagus nerve stimulation of the Langendorff pig heart preparation will increase our knowledge on the etiology of atrial fibrillation and provide a basis for the transfer of this intervention into human studies and clinical practice. C. Research on the plasticity of peripheral nerve The results of the planned basic research on the model of end-to-side nerve coaptation will elucide new factors that influence the ingrowth of axons of the donor nerve into the recipient nerve. In addition, they will contribute to understanding the plasticity of the peripheral nervous system after injury. The evaluation of neurogenic mechanisms that influence local inflammation in human periodontitis will increase our understanding of its etiology and have important therapeutic implications.
Significance for the country
Implementation of the proposed translational-oriented research programme will have indirect relevance to socio-economic development of Slovenia as it will contribute to improvements in the treatment of common neurological-psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, Parkinson disease and drug addiction) and also direct relevance by promoting the development of medical equipment. The proposed research programme contributes toward (1) sustainable socio-economic and cultural development, (2) technological development and (3) national identity and indirect importance for society. (1) Indirect importance of the proposed research program to sustainable socio-economic and cultural development: Collaborations with excellent laboratories in Slovenia and abroad, within the framework of the proposed research, contributes toward the progress of graduate and postgraduate medical education and public health system, research infrastructural development, knowledge transfer and education of future researchers in Slovenia. It represents the basis for doctoral study and education of young medical scientists, medical specialists and university teachers in the field of medicine. Some applied aspects of our research may become important for the development of future treatments of peripheral motor nerve injuries, neurodegenerative diseases, drug dependence and prion diseases. For example, we will evaluate the potential of nonpharmacologic therapeutic interventions for the treatment of schizophrenia, Parkinson disease and atrial fibrillation. The proposed research also contributes towards the dissemination of high-tech neurobiological methods by the exchange of doctoral and postdoctoral students and researchers in the field of biomedicine, thus creating opportunities for international scientific collaboration and transfer of know-how. (2) Direct importance of the proposed research program for technological development Selective stimulation of superficial regions of the vagus nerve and/or cardiac ganglia, could significantly reduce the recurrence of atrial fibrillation. The translation of the animal model to clinical practice could have important implications for the development of a medical product in collaboration with a small or medium enterprise. We will develop some potentially useful new therapeutic substances, as well as diagnostic reagents and procedures for different neural disorders. (3) Contribution of the proposed program to the national identity and indirect importance for society With internationally recognized research work and international connections and cooperation we contribute to the positive image of Slovenia abroad.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, 2016, 2017, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, 2016, 2017, final report
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