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Harrison, Fiona, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism

Fiona Harrison, Ph.D.
Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism
7465 MRB4
615-875-5635 (office)

The focus of the Harrison lab is the role of vitamin C and its transporters (SVCT1 & SVCT2) in brain function during development and in neurodegenerative diseases. We use a wide variety of behavioral testing techniques along with a more molecular approach to understand the mechanisms behind the changes we observe.

Current projects : Vitamin C in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. We use transgenic mice that carry human mutant genes for APP and PSEN1 which cause Alzheimer’s disease and cross these with mice that have additional or only half of the normal copies of the SVCT2. With these models we can study the effects of a lifetime of low, normal and high levels of vitamin C in the brain on Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology and cognitive deficits.

Vitamin C in the brain during development. We use a number of different mouse models including mice that express high or low levels of the SVCT2, mice that lack the SVCT1, and mice that cannot synthesize their own vitamin C and are supplemented with different amounts of it in their diet. Low vitamin C can cause scurvy in utero leading to death before or shortly after birth, and in less severe cases can causes permanent damage to brain function leading to permanent behavioral deficits. We aim to isolate the role of vitamin C in development and the mechanisms behind deficiency-induced damage.

For more information, please visit the lab website.