Neurons, also known as brain cells, are sensitive to variations in the composition of the gas that surrounds them. Therefore, a significant fall in the oxygen content of their environment, due for example to respiratory failure, can have a damaging effect on neurons. This may result in cognitive impairment. When the oxygen content only falls slightly, some neuron populations can survive for longer. The presence of rare gases, such as argon, in the cell environment can also improve neuron survival.
The project of Prof. Gérard Friedlander from the Necker-Enfants Malades Institute aims, therefore, to prevent the risk of neuron damage during respiratory failure, like sleep apnea, congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, or Joubert's syndrome¹ .
The professor's team is testing the effects of a variety of gaseous atmospheres with higher or lower oxygen content on the survival of neurons of various brain structures in culture.
The research team incubates neurons in gaseous atmospheres with high or low concentrations of oxygen and argon (rare gas). The following stage consists in quantifying the cells' survival rate and cellular death rate (apoptosis) . The study also measures neuron growth and their differentiation in different atmospheric conditions. And finally, the survival of exposed cells after freezing is then evaluated.
The Air Liquide Foundation's €50,000 donation is being allocated to purchasing equipment and consumables, and medical imagery costs.
¹ A genetic disorder that affects the cerebellum and the brain stem, mainly affecting children
² A process by which the cells trigger their self-destruction in response to a signal