My primary research interests comprise psychiatric- and neurodegenerative disorders.
Depression and antidepressant treatment
Depression is a highly debilitating disorder which affects millions of people worldwide. Studies of patients with major depression show structural alterations of the hippocampus that are opposed by treatment using antidepressants and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Because ECT and antidepressant therapy has been shown to stimulate cell division, and increase the volume of the hippocampus, it is believed that the formation of new neurons (neurogenesis) may be an important component for improvements of depressive episodes. Using stereological methods I have studied structural changes of the hippocampus in depressive-like rats as well as quantified the number of newly-formed neurons, and their survival following repeated electroconvulsive stimulation (ECS). Published in Hippocampus (2015), 25(1):72-80
Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)
MSA is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of unknown etiology. In the early progression it resembles Parkinson's disease, but the symptoms are much broader and involve a combination of parkinsonism as well as autonomous and cerebellar symptoms. MSA pathology is demonstrated on the basis of inclusion bodies in specific glial cells (oligodendrocytes). These inclusions mainly consist of insoluble protein, α-synuclein, which, via a yet unknown mechanism, leads to the loss of nerve cells in brain regions that are vital for the control of movement, coordination and balance.
Transgenic MSA mouse model: We are currently generating MSA mouse models for future studies of the pathological mechanisms that may be involved in initiating the neurodegenerative cascade in MSA. Using behavioral testing the motor function of the mice is assessed at selected time intervals. In relevant regions of the MSA mouse brains α-synuclein gene- and protein expression will be analyzed together with thorough neuropathological evaluations. Furthermore, we will perform stereological quantifications of neurons and glial cells to investigate whether we can reproduce human MSA brain pathology.
Neuronal quantification of post-mortem cerebellum: Besides coordinating muscle activity, the cerebellum is central to the maintenance of balance and spatial orientation. Based on the knowledge of cell morphology and function in the healthy brains, I am currently using stereology to examine whether there are changes in the number and volume of specific nerve cells in the cerebellum in patients with MSA.