The Department of Experimental Neurology within the Department of Neurology focusses on the following research areas:
- Cerebral ischemia and stroke
- Brain - immune interaction and CNS
- Inflammation Regulation of cerebral blood flow
- Functional and molecular brain imaging
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Experimental Neurology aims to bridge the gap between fundamental neuroscience research and clinical neurology. We conduct preclinical and clinical studies to bring the findings from the laboratory to practice.
The main research topics are:
Using optical and magnetic resonance techniques we aim at understanding the molecular and biochemical mechanisms by which the brain adapts local blood flow to metabolism with high temporal and spatial resolution. We brigde the gap from physiology to pathophysiology by investigating mechanisms by which disturbances of cerebrovascular regulation can lead to brain disease, as for example after subarachnoid hemorrhage, or in vascular dementioa. In addition, we are investigating the 'fingerprints' of physiological or pathophysiological processes in cerebral blood flow or hemoglobin oxygenation. These studies thereby provide the basis for modern non-invasive functional brain imaging methods, which utilize brain blood flow changes or oxygenation changes to map brain activity.
Stroke prevention, treatment, regeneration
In cell culture and in vivo models of stroke, as well as in clinical studies we are investigating the complex cascades of damage after focal cerebral ischemia (stroke). A particular focus is on endogenous mechanisms of protection (ischemic tolerance, preconditioning) and on delayed mechanisms of damage (inflammation, apoptosis). In addition, we study the interaction of the damaged brain with the peripheral immune system, and the consequences of this interaction for stroke outcome. It is our ultimate goal to devise novel strategies to improve the prevention, treatment, and diagnosis of stroke.
To study the function of the brain non-invasively we develop, validate and employ various technologies. Light in the near infrared wavelength range penetrates biological tissues and can be used to measure blood flow and metabolism as well as pathophysiological processes, such as inflammation. Functional and molecular optical imaging have the potential to provide relatively simple and inexpensive devices for bedside monitoring of brain physiology and pathophysiology. Currently we are developing imaging devices for the combined surface mapping of brain blood flow and oxygenation, as well as a small animal optical tomographical brain imager. Magnetic resonance imaging at ultrahigh fieldstrengths allows us to study brain structure at high spatial resolution, but also to obtain functional parameters, such as cerebral blood flow and blood oxygenation. To obtain molecular signatures in the brain we use nuclear medicine techniques, such as µSPECT and µPET, for which we develop novel tracers to study brain pathophysiology in vivo.