Research at the Institute of Cellular Neurosciences is focused on the investigation of glial cells and their role in information processing in the normal and diseased brain. Similar to neurons, glial cells express a plethora of ion channels, membrane transporters and transmitter receptors. Distinct glial subpopulations receive direct synaptic input from neurons or respond to neuronal activation by elevating intracellular calcium concentration and releasing gliotransmitters, such as glutamate, ATP or D-serine. To unravel mechanisms underlying these intriguing, hitherto ill-defined forms of neuron-glia interaction, and to better understand the impact of glial cell heterogeneity, we apply a combination of electrophysiological, molecular and imaging techniques. Of particular interest is the hippocampus, a brain region that is important for learning and memory. We investigate cellular properties in acute preparations, either after fresh cell isolation or in acute brain slices. A main focus of our research is on the analysis in human epilepsy. Here we apply our methods to glial cells and neurons in acute, live hippocampal specimens obtained from neurosurgical treatment of patients suffering from pharmacoresistant temporal lobe epilepsy. In addition, animal models of epilepsy are used. The aim is to better understand the role of glial cells in the initiation and progression of epileptogenesis, with the ultimate goal of developing new anti-epileptogenic therapeutic approaches.
Institute of Cellular Neurosciences
University of Bonn, Medical School
Our research is focused on the investigation of glial cells and their role in information processing in the normal and diseased brain. We investigate the functional heterogeneity of astrocytes in different brain regions and aim at identifying how neuron-NG2 cell synapses influence brain signaling. A main topic is the the impact of astrocyte dysfunction on the pathogenesis of temporal lobe epilepsy, using tissue resected from patients with intractable epilepsy and animal models.