Neuroimmunology research within MCBI

Aim

The overall goal of our translational research is to understand how inflammation contributes to central nervous system (CNS) damage and find ways to counteract CNS injury and limit progression of neurological diseases. Research within the Neuroimmunology theme is embedded in two major research lines.

Principal Investigators:
Prof. dr. Elga de Vries
Prof. dr. Jack van Horssen

Research lines

1. Brain barriers in health and disease. The blood-brain barrier, formed by the cerebral endothelial cells, and the blood-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)) barrier (barrier epithelial cells) are critical in the maintenance of brain homeostasis and its immune quiescence. Alterations in barrier function contribute to neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke and Alzheimer disease. Aim of current research is to identify molecular players and cellular interactions that control the function of both brain endothelial and epithelial cells and understand events resulting in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in order to find ways to therapeutically counteract neurological disease progression.

2. Role of glia in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. Activated microglia and reactive astrocytes play a dominant role in neuronal dysfunction. Within this research line we aim to understand how inflammation influences glial cell function and their subsequent effects on molecular, cellular and mitochondrial alterations in neuronal functioning. Insight into the cellular and molecular pathways underlying inflammation-driven neuronal dysfunction will be used to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic strategies using in vitro and in vivo models of neuroinflammation.

Approach

We use in vitro and in vivo models to mimic neuroinflammatory events and implement a wide variety of molecular, cell biological and imaging techniques, such as primary rodent and human CNS cell (co)cultures, (super-resolution & confocal, light sheet, life cell) microscopy  and PET imaging. One of our major strengths is that we have access to well-characterized human brain tissue allowing us to translate our findings in CNS samples of various neurological disorders.