Section: Application Domains

Mathematical neuroendocrinology

Mathematical neuroendocrinology is a new field that uses mathematical modeling and analysis to help interpret neuroendocrine knowledge and design new functional assumptions or experiments. Neuroendocrinology itself is a biological scientific field at the interface between Neurosciences, Endocrinology and Physiology (and even of Developmental Biology in the case of the HPG axis) ; it studies neural networks in the brain that regulate, and that form, neuroendocrine systems.

Neuroendocrinology necessarily includes the understanding and study of peripheral physiological systems that are regulated by neuroendocrine mechanisms. Hence, in addition to our studies dedicated to the hypothalamic and pituitary levels, we do embed the target peripheral system (the gonads) in our approach of the HPG axis, with a special interest in the cell dynamics processes involved in the morphogenesis of ovarian follicles.

On the central level, we are specifically interested in the following crucial questions arising from basic and clinical neuroendocrinology: (i) How does the network-level superslow secretion rhythm of the hypothalamic hormone GnRH emerge as pulses from the fast individual dynamics of neurons? (ii) How is GnRH pulsatility switched either on or off along the different steps of the reproductive life? (iii) How is the frequency of GnRH pulses encoded and decoded by its target pituitary cells? On the peripheral level, we address the following crucial questions arising from basic and clinical reproductive and developmental biology: (i) What are the multiscale bases of the selection process operated amongst ovarian follicles that guarantees the species-specific ovulation rate in mammals ? (ii) Which configurations of the HPG axis allow for selection escape and poly-ovulating strategies, as observed naturally in prolific species or in strain-specific genetic mutations? (iii) How does the interaction between the oocyte and its surrounding follicular cells shape the morphology of the follicle in the early stages?