Position: M.Sc. Student – Biophotonics, Université Laval
Academia: B.Ing. – Engineering Physics, Université Laval
Advisors: Prof. Daniel Côté, Prof. Steve Lacroix

RESEARCH INTERESTS: In vivo imaging, Leukocyte infiltration, Multiple sclerosis




Leukocytes (i.e. white blood cells) are key players in the body’s immune response against inflammatory insults and injuries. Their role is particularly important in the immune-privileged zone of the central nervous system (CNS), especially in the context of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). In such pathologies, certain immune cells have the capacity to infiltrate into the CNS and subsequently damage the myelin sheath surrounding signal-transmitting axons, therefore hampering the transmission of information between them and ultimately causing motor deficits and other characteristic symptoms of the disease.

Infiltrating monocytes (green), and microglia (red) aroubnd blood vessels (blue) in a developing lesion in the spinal cord.

With this in mind, this project is aimed at observing in live animals the transmigration of leukocytes into mice spinal cord over several days, in order to gain specific information about the mechanisms that characterize the onset of the disease in a “temporal” manner. We perform non-terminal surgeries in transgenic mice, which enables the observation of specific cellular population without any manipulations which could affect their function. Therefore, we obtain maximal context since it is possible to follow the development of the disease in an animal which as been previously imaged. Therefore, it is possible to relate previous observations with clinical outcome, which is not possible using ex vivo preparations or terminal in vivo imaging sessions. Simultaneously with cellular infiltration measurements, we investigate the integrity of the Blood-Brain barrier (BBB) in vivo. This gives us further insights about the key players involved in the developing  pathology, as well as possible therapeutic strategies.