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Cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway and its role in cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease, manifested as myocardial infarction and/or stroke, is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally. The underlying factor for cardiovascular disease is usually atherosclerosis. Inflammation is central in cardiovascular disease, not only for the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, but also in complications following atherosclerosis, for example during and after embolus/thrombus formation (ischemia-reperfusion injury). The autonomic nervous system can modulate inflammation in acute inflammatory models. If this also occurs in cardiovascular disease is not known.

In this research project we address the interaction between autonomic nervous system and inflammation, focusing on the cholinergic alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR) signaling and identifying the mechanisms of α7nAChR action and how it mediates its anti-inflammatory effects in atherosclerosis and in ischemia-reperfusion injury in the brain (stroke). We have recently shown that the α7nAChR is expressed in human carotid plaques and that lack of α7nAChR dramatically accelerates atherosclerosis (Johansson ME et al ATVB 2014). By combining experimental models and human material we will identify the mechanisms whereby the α7nAChR modulates inflammation and thereby influences the development of atherosclerosis and ischemia-reperfusion brain injury.


Principal Investigator

Maria E. Johansson

PhD, Associate Professor

Phone: +46 (0)31-786 3556
Visiting and postal addresses

Publications GUP

Group members

  • Marcus Ulleryd, Postdoc
  • Saray Gutierrez, Postdoc
  • Maria Hammarlund, MSc, Doctoral student
  • Filip Mjörnstedt, MD, Doctoral student
  • Kajsa Engvall,Medical student, amanuensis
  • Lisa Cognard, Bachelor student
  • Harman Sabir, Masters student



  • Sara Svahn, PhD
Page Manager: Annie Sundling|Last update: 6/15/2015

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