Based on challenges of high clinical and societal relevance and the special competencies of its cooperation partners, HZI has established Research Foci (RF), providing a synergistic, dynamic and flexible framework for the programme.
The Research Foci integrate know-how from different areas of HZI’s research, namely from all three Topics, and can thus address research questions using expertise on pathogens, immune systems and anti-infectives. They offer the flexibility to meet new challenges, e.g. by establishing a new Research Focus when a new urgent problem emerges. Within each Research Focus, HZI scientists pursue the transfer of knowledge from the lab to clinical or pharmaceutical application.
Currently, researchers at HZI and its partner institutions cooperate in seven Research Foci addressing the clinically relevant fields of:
Infections and inflammatory processes can also affect the central nervous system (CNS). However, the understanding of the interaction between the immune system and the nervous system is still far from complete.
The Research Focus "Infections and Neurodegeneration" (INEU) is harnessing interdisciplinary research approaches to characterize the complex interactions between pathogens, (neuro-) inflammation and brain function.
INEU aims to elucidate the mechanisms of pathogen control within the CNS and the role of infections in the onset and progression of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. The Research Focus is in close cooperation with experts from TU Braunschweig, MHH and DZNE. In addition, the influence of the intestinal microbiota as well as the metabolic balance (homeostasis) on processes in the CNS is being investigated. The findings will contribute to the discovery of early detectable biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases and the development of personalized therapies.
The most important questions for the Research Focus INEU are:
- What role do infections and associated inflammatory processes play in the onset and development of neurodegenerative diseases?
- How do metabolic imbalances affect such neurodegenerative diseases?
- How does the individual microbiota influence processes in the CNS?
- Which biomarkers can be detected in the early stages of a neurodegenerative disease?
- What are the possible therapeutic approaches and personalized preventive measures for each individual patient?
Speaker of the RF INEU: Ulrich Kalinke
Deputy Speaker: Martin Korte
Beyer MMS, Lonnemann N, Remus A, Latz E, Heneka MT, Korte M (2020) Enduring Changes in Neuronal Function upon Systemic Inflammation Are NLRP3 Inflammasome Dependent. J. Neurosci. 40:5480-5494.
Hosseini S, Michaelsen-Preusse K, Grigoryan G, Chhatbar C, Kalinke U, Korte M (2020) Type I Interferon Receptor Signaling in Astrocytes Regulates Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity and Cognitive Function of the Healthy CNS. Cell Reports 31:107666.
Hosseini S, Wilk E, Michaelsen-Preusse K, Gerhauser I, Baumgartner W, Geffers R, Schughart K, Korte M (2018) Long-Term Neuroinflammation Induced by Influenza A Virus Infection and the Impact on Hippocampal Neuron Morphology and Function. J. Neurosci. 38:3060-3080.
Chhatbar C, Detje CN, Grabski E, Borst K, Spanier J, Ghita L, Elliott DA, Jordão MJC, Mueller N, Sutton J, Prajeeth CK, Gudi V, Klein MA, Prinz M, Bradke F, Stangel M, Kalinke U (2018) Type I Interferon Receptor Signaling of Neurons and Astrocytes Regulates Microglia Activation during Viral Encephalitis. Cell Reports 25(1):118-129.e4.
Waltl I, Käufer C, Gerhauser I, Chhatbar C, Ghita L, Kalinke U, Löscher W (2018) Microglia have a protective role in viral encephalitis-induced seizure development and hippocampal damage. Brain Behav. Immun. 74:186-204.