Meet Helle Hasager Damkier

Portrait of Helle Hasager Damkier
Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Photo

“We believe that our research results can be used to develop new medicines for the treatment of elevated pressure in the brain and in connection with convulsions.”

Cerebrospinal fluid – what is its role in brain function?

How is cerebrospinal fluid produced and does the composition of the fluid have an influence on other functions in the brain? These are the basic questions that Associate Professor Helle H. Damkier, born in 1978, is attempting to answer.

”It’s a small tissue in the brain which forms our brain fluid, known as cerebrospinal fluid. The tissue, which only weighs a single gram, is able to produce as much as half a litre of fluid daily. I find this really fascinating.”

Among the aspects which Helle H. Damkier and her colleagues are investigating, is the possibility of inhibiting the formation of the fluid in diseases where the pressure in the brain becomes too high, such as in connection with hydrocephalus (water in the brain) following brain haemorrhages. At the same time, they are also interested in whether changes in the pH of the fluid may affect the development of convulsions. The research group wants to examine whether changing the pH of the brain fluid via the choroid plexus can prevent seizures as seen in severe epilepsy.

Together with her project partners, they have mapped which proteins can have importance for pH regulation in the cerebrospinal fluid. They have shown that one of these transporters in particular, NBCe2, is important for maintaining the pH during acute acid-base disruption as for example is seen in connection with a seizure. The group has also shown that another transporter, NCBE, is important for the production of cerebrospinal fluid.

In their current research projects, they are studying the significance of the two proteins, NCBE and NBCe2, in connection with haemorrhages in the brain and during seizures. “We’ve got multiple animal models in which we either remove the proteins by suppressing them with viral techniques, antibodies or medicine directed at the protein.”

"We believe that our research results can be used to develop new medicines for the treatment of elevated pressure in the brain and in connection with convulsions. Our hope is that the research will form the basis for a basic understanding of the importance of cerebrospinal fluid in the functioning of the brain. And, at the same time, identify potential new treatment methods for serious diseases such as brain haemorrhages and epilepsy."

Portrait of Helle Hasager Damkier
Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Photo

“We believe that our research results can be used to develop new medicines for the treatment of elevated pressure in the brain and in connection with convulsions.”