Virginia Hsu

Program: Neurosciences

Current advisor: Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD

Undergraduate university: Cornell University

Research summary
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is an essential metabolite for cellular function and bioenergetics. Dysfunction in NAD+ metabolism is implicated in various age-associated processes including brain “inflammageing”, mitochondrial dysfunction, and axonal degeneration. Brain NAD+ levels are known to decrease during aging, while boosting cellular NAD+ via administration of NAD+ precursors ameliorates age-dependent pathologies and metabolic changes associated with NAD+ decline. Of particular interest is nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which is taken up by cells via its transporter Slc12a8. Repletion of NAD+ through NMN supplementation is known to counteract some functional and structural changes seen in brain aging and neurodegenerative disease. I am studying (1) the role of Slc12a8 in regulating brain NAD+ metabolism, as well as its downstream function in aging and age-dependent cognitive decline and (2) characteristics of NAD+ handling in glial cells and their contributions to neuronal metabolism.

Graduate publications