A headshot photo of Aminata Coulibaly.

Aminata Coulibaly, PhD

Assistant Professor

Contact Information

108 Biomedical Drive
PO Box 9303
Room 314
Morgantown, WV 26506

Research Interests

The Coulibaly research group is interested in understanding how the activity of the immune system affects cognition. Cognition or cognitive domain encompasses all the elements necessary for an animal to learn and adapt to changes to its environment. As such, cognition is the interplay between the following processes: working memory, attention, executive function, mental flexibility, declarative memory, and episodic memory. Because of the complexity of this domain, in our lab we use tasks that help us determine whether our manipulations affect any one of these processes. Specifically, our manipulation entails changing immune cell function in both the brain and periphery, and determining its effect on these processes.

The immune system has 2 branches, adaptive and innate. We are interested in the innate immune system. This is the system that is first activated in response to both injury and pathogen challenges. Neutrophils are the most abundant cell type within the innate immune system. In humans, these cells make up about 70% of all white blood cells. In mice they make up about 30%. These cells are the first cells to infiltrate injury and infectious sites. Similarly in the brain, upon injury or infection neutrophils are recruited acutely to the site. The activity of these cells within any injury site is critical in initiating inflammation, that is recruitment of other immune cells, release of molecules to break down extra cellular matrices, etc. This activity is also critical for the initiation of healing response.

In our lab, we use transgenic mouse models and pharmacology to alter neutrophil function globally or within the covering (meninges) of the brain. Then using behavioral tests, we determine whether these changes affect cognitive processes. Furthermore, using immunohistochemistry and imaging, we look at the effect of the neutrophil manipulation on brain morphology. Also, using cell cultures we look at how direct and indirect interaction with neutrophils affect the activity of different brain cells. Finally, using the methodologies described above, we will determine how neutrophil activity in injuries like stroke contribute the long-term cognitive decline associated with the injury.


1. Coulibaly A.P., Pezuk P., Varghese P., Gartman W., Triebwasser D., Kulas J.A., Liu L., Syed M., Tvrdik P., Ferris H., Provencio J.J. 2021. The neutrophil enzyme myeloperoxidase directly modulates neuronal response after subarachnoid hemorrhage, a sterile injury model. Stroke. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34404234/

2. Goins J., Henkel N., Coulibaly A.P., Isaacson L.G. 2021. Activated microglia in the rat spinal cord following peripheral axon injury promote glial and neuronal plasticity which is necessary for long term neuronal survival. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 41, 309-326. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32335774/

3. Coulibaly A.P., Provencio J.J. 2020. Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: a temporal analysis of cellular changes associated with poor outcomes. Neurotherapeutics; invited review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31907877/

4. Steward O., Coulibaly A.P., Metcalfe M., Yonan J.M., Yee K.M. 2020. AAVshRNA-mediated PTEN knockdown in adult neurons attenuates activity-dependent kinase activation and immediate early gene induction. Journal of Experimental Neurology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31707081/