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Laboratory for astrocyte biology and CNS regeneration

Center for Brain Repair and Rehabilitation
Dept. of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
University of Gothenburg


Ulrika Wilhelmsson, PhD, researcher
Anders Ståhlberg, PhD, researcher
Yolanda de Pablo, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow
Till Puschmann, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow
Elin Möllerström, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow
Michelle Porritt, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow (also connected to Prof. Michael Nilsson’s Laboratory and Associate Professor Marcela Pekna’s Laboratory)
Xiaoguang Yang, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow
Daniel Andersson, PhD student
Isabell Lebküchner, PhD student
Ann-Marie Alborn, lab technician (part-time)
Inger Almgren, secretary
Karin Andersson, secretary
Mari Klaesson, secretary (currently on parental leave)

Research profile

We pursue basic, translational and clinical research in the field of CNS repair and regeneration. The focus on novel strategies for brain repair and regeneration by modulating the function of astrocytes is expected to provide a basis for the development of new therapeutic paradigms for patients affected by stroke, neurotrauma or neurodegenerative diseases. We developed mouse genetic models, which have helped to define the role of astrocytes in vivo, in particular in the disease context and with respect to CNS regeneration. Our laboratory with our collaborative partners helped to redefine the concept of reactive gliosis in an injured brain (5) and showed that reactive astrocytes play a key role in CNS trauma and stroke (2, 3, 7). We proposed astrocytes as a novel target for pharmacological intervention. We identified post- traumatic reactive gliosis as a major obstacle to CNS regeneration and demonstrated that the integration of neural transplants and neural stem cells can be largely improved by modulation of astrocyte activation (1, 6). We showed that astrocytes are important modulators of synaptic and axonal regeneration after CNS trauma (2 and other publications). As one of the first laboratories in Europe, we perform single cell gene expression profiling of astroglial cells as a step towards molecular definition of astrocytes in health and disease (8).

Selected publications

1. Kinouchi, R., Takeda, M., Yang, L., Wilhelmsson, U., Lundkvist, A., Pekny, M*, Chen, D.-F*. Robust neural integration and nerve regeneration from retinal transplants in mice deficient for GFAP and vimentin. *equal contribution, Nature Neurosci., 2003, 6, 863-868.

2. Wilhelmsson, U., Li, L., Pekna, M., Berthold, C.-H., Blom, S., Eliasson, C., Renner, O., Bushong, E., Ellisman, M., Morgan, T., Pekny, M. Absence of GFAP and vimentin prevents hypertrophy of astrocytic processes and improves post-traumatic regeneration. J. Neurosci., 2004, 24, 5016-5021.

3. Pekny, M. and Nilsson, M. Astrocyte activation and reactive gliosis. Glia, 2005, 50, 428-434.

4. Rahpeymai, Y., Hietala, M. A., Wilhelmsson, U., Fotheringham, A., Davies, A., Nilsson, A.-K., Zwirner, J., Wetsel, R. A., Gerard, C., Pekny, M., Pekna, M. Complement: A novel factor in basal and ischemia-induced neurogenesis. EMBO J., 2006, 25, 1364-1374. Presented in Research Highlights in Nature, 440, 5, 2006.

5. Wilhemsson, U., Bushong, E. A., Price, D. J., Smarr, B. L., Phung, V., Terada, M., Ellisman, M. H., Pekny, M. Redefining the concept of reactive astrocytes – astrocytes reacting to injury remain within their unique domains. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2006, 103, 17513-17518.

6. Widestrand A., Faijerson, J., Wilhelmsson, U., Smith, P. L. P., Li, L., Eriksson, P., Pekny, M. Increased neurogenesis and astrogenesis from neural progenitor cells grafted in the hippocampus of GFAP-/-Vim-/- mice. Stem Cells, 2007, 25: 2619-2627.

7. Li, L., Lundkvist, A., Wilhelmsson, U., Andersson, J. D., Nagai, N., Pardo, A., Nodin, C., Ståhlberg, A., Aprico, C., Larsson, K., Yabe, T., Moons, L., Fotheringham, A., Davies, I., Carmeliet, P., Schwartz, J., Pekna, M.,Kubista, M., Blomstrand, F., Maragakis, N., Nilsson, M, Pekny M. Protective role of reactive astrocytes in brain ischemia. J. Cereb. Blood Flow Metab., 2008, 28: 468-481.

8. Stahlberg, A., Andersson, D., Aurelius, J., Pekna, M., Faiz, M., Kubista, M., Pekny, M. Distinct subpopulations of primary astrocytes in culture revealed by gene expression profiling of single cells. Nucl. Acids Res., 2011, 39: e24.


Press releases

August 2007 (in Swedish)

August 2007 (in English)

November 2006 (in Swedish)


Laboratory Director

Milos Pekny

Milos Pekny, MD, PhD, Professor
Phone: +46 (0)31 786 3269
Fax: +46 (0)31 416108
Email: milos.pekny@neuro.gu.se

(Fotograf Pontus Johansson)

Sidansvarig: Katinka Almrén|Sidan uppdaterades: 2011-12-17

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