May 2, 2019

"Bipolar Windows"

In Celebration of May, National Mental Health Awareness Month

It has been said that “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
--Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, MD, Psychiatrist, 1926-2004.

Bipolar disorder (BP) is a complex psychiatric condition that is characterized by severe fluctuations in mood, for which the underlying causes remain unknown. Because there are no viable cellular models to study BP, we have taken advantage of the recent discovery that mature cells of the body, particularly skin cells, can be altered to behave as stem cells that can form any cell type. To study BP, we have taken skin cells from patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder and also from non-diagnosed control individuals. Skin cells are then coaxed to become stem cells and then neurons, to shed light on the bipolar nervous system.

This photo illustrates the appearance of immature neurons derived from skin cells of an individual with bipolar disorder.

Pink = the cell body of the neurons, yellow = the nucleus

Image taken in Dr. Sue O’Shea's lab

Read more about Dr. O'Shea's work in stem cells here and here

This image is part of the BioArtography collection. View the entire collection here.