Bio Patrika interviews Mr. Agrawal on his thoughts about “Dopamine induces functional extracellular traps in microglia”

Mr. Ishan Agrawal’s interview with Bio Patrika hosting “Vigyan Patrika”, a series of author interviews. Ishan is currently doing Ph.D. in the lab of Dr. Sushmita Jha at Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur. He is studying the role of inflammasomes and microglia in brain cancer and neuro-inflammation. In future, Ishan is interested in investigating how microglia regulates development and progression of Glioblastoma multiforme and neurological disorders. Here, Ishan talks about his first author paper titled “Dopamine induces functional extracellular traps in microglia” published in iScience (2021).

How would you explain your paper’s key results to the non-scientific community?

We have studied how dopamine can play a role in central nervous system immunity and inflammation by acting on microglia. Microglia are the immune cells of the brain and are responsible for keeping the brain healthy. We saw that dopamine acts on microglia leading to the formation of net-like structures. These net-like structures are called extracellular traps (ETs) and are composed of DNA and many antimicrobial proteins. These traps can help in controlling infection in the central nervous system as they can trap bacteria. We also found the presence of these extracellular traps in brain tumours.

Figure 1. Schematic of Dopamine induced functional extracellular traps in microglia.

What are the possible consequences of these findings for your research area?

ETs were discovered as a mechanism to counter pathogens like bacteria, fungi and viruses. The formation of these traps by dopamine-induced microglia may lead to a better understanding of infection and inflammation within the brain. If these traps are not appropriately cleared, they may lead to harmful consequences. It is also important to study whether these traps are being formed without any infection, which may be harmful. Since we have also seen the presence of these traps in brain tumours, it is very important to study what role they are playing in initiation, maintenance and/or progression of tumours.

“Dopamine induced extracellular traps may regulate central nervous system inflammation.”

What was the exciting moment (eureka moment) during your research?

The most exciting moment was observing the formation of traps the very first time. We were studying other effects of dopamine on microglia when we first observed the formation of ETs. While I thought there is something wrong with the experiment, my supervisor Dr. Sushmita Jha understood the possible importance of the extracellular structures and guided the project forward.

What do you hope to do next?

We further want to study how these traps are being formed and their role in different neurological diseases, especially in brain tumours.

Where do you seek scientific inspiration?

My scientific inspiration has been Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Dr. Marie Curie since my childhood. Their struggles and perseverance to do science and good for society have always been an inspiration for me. Their life story gives me the strength to carry on in my hard times.

How do you intend to help Indian science improve?

My goal in the future is to be a scientist and a teacher. I want to study diseases related to the brain which may help in better management of neurological diseases and patients. I want to teach and inspire students to pursue science. Connecting common people to science is one of the ways I also want to contribute. Science done in labs is very important for common people, but they don’t understand it because it is not communicated effectively. During the current pandemic, Indian scientists have developed a vaccine that shows how important these scientific studies are for society. I will try my best to get this general understanding of science among non-scientific people.


Ishan Agrawal, Nidhi Sharma, Shivanjali Saxena, S. Arvind, Debayani Chakraborty, Debarati Bhunia Chakraborty, Deepak Jha, Surajit Ghatak, Sridhar Epari, Tejpal Gupta, and Sushmita Jha. Dopamine inducesfunctional extracellulartraps in microglia (2021). iScience 24, 101968.


Learn more about Sushmita Jha lab here:

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