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Experimental Neuroimmunology

An immune response is part of most neurological diseases, and the development of late-onset Alzheimer's Disease (AD) has been linked to immune related genes and most recently also to epigenetic modifications. This indicates a significant contribution of immunity to AD pathology. The immune response during AD is largely mediated by the brain's resident macrophages, the microglia, which are attracted to and surround Aβ deposits in the AD brain. However, various aspects of their role in amyloid plaque homeostasis and AD pathogenesis remain unclear. Furthermore, how inflammation in the periphery may affect the immune response in the brain remains incompletely understood.

Main objectives
Recent results

1. To investigate how peripheral inflammatory stimuli induce innate immune memory in the brain and how immune memory affects neurodegenerative disease pathology and aging.

2. To understand how microglia contribute to AD pathology and in particular to amyloidosis and the resulting neuronal damage.

3. To understand microglial heterogeneity in neurodegenerative diseases and aging and delineate which microglial subtypes may play pathological roles.

To this end we use various models of peripheral inflammation and profile the microglial immune response to secondary stimuli, including pathological changes in neurodegenerative disease models. We isolate microglia from adult and aged brains and study their molecular profiles (transcriptional, epigenetic) and functions (phagocytic behavior and inflammatory responses). Together with the molecular imaging unit we use multiphoton imaging to study microglial behavior in the aging brain and in APP transgenic mice.

In the Neuroimmunology group, we recently found that microglia are capable of "remembering" inflammatory insults and adapt their immune responses to subsequent stimuli. Importantly, we found that these long-term adjustments in microglial immune responses had significant effects on brain pathology in mouse models. Moreover, we could demonstrate that this adaptive response is based on epigenetic reprogramming of microglial cells and our results indicate that microglia can integrate different inflammatory stimuli over long periods of time (Wendeln et al., Nature, 2018). This was the first description of "innate immune memory" in the brain and may explain how inflammatory conditions in human patients (such as infections but also diabetes or obesity) can increase the risk to develop Alzheimer's Disease or can modify the progression of neurodegenerative disease pathology (Neher and Cunningham, Trends in Immunology, 2019).



 Desirée Brösamle
Desirée Brösamle PhD Student
Experimental Neuroimmunology
07071 91-54352 
 Julia Koppelmann
Julia Koppelmann Master Student
Experimental Neuroimmunology
 Ping Liu
Ping Liu PhD Student
Experimental Neuroimmunology
07071 29-81945 
Dr. Jonas Neher
Dr. Jonas Neher Research Group Leader (DZNE)
Experimental Neuroimmunology
07071 29-87596 
 Linda Oberle
Linda Oberle Medical doctoral student
Experimental Neuroimmunology
07071 29-81951 
 Lisa Steinbrecher
Lisa Steinbrecher PhD Student
Experimental Neuroimmunology
07071 29-81945 
 Jessica Wagner
Jessica Wagner PhD Student (DZNE)
Experimental Neuroimmunology
07071 29-81945 
 Katleen Wild
Katleen Wild Technical Assistant (DZNE)
Experimental Neuroimmunology
07071 29-81951 

Neher JJ, Cunningham C (2019)  Priming Microglia for Innate Immune Memory in the BrainTrends in immunology 40:358-374 (Abstract)

Wendeln AC, Degenhardt K, Kaurani L, Gertig M, Ulas T, Jain G, Wagner J, Häsler LM, Wild K, Skodras A, Blank T, Staszewski O, Datta M, Centeno TP, Capece V, Islam MR, Kerimoglu C, Staufenbiel M, Schultze JL, Beyer M, Prinz M, Jucker M, Fischer A, Neher JJ (2018) Innate immune memory in the brain shapes neurological disease hallmarks. Nature 556:332-338 (Abstract)

Varvel NH, Grathwohl SA, Degenhardt K, Resch C, Bosch A, Jucker M, Neher JJ. Replacement of brain-resident myeloid cells does not alter cerebral β-amyloid deposition in mouse models of Alzheimer´s disease. J Ex Med 212:1803-9 (Abstract)

Brown GC, Neher JJ (2014) Microglial phagocytosis of live neuronsNat Rev Neurosci 15:209-16 (Abstract)

Neher JJ, Emmrich JV, Fricker M, Mander PK, Théry C, Brown GC (2013) Phagocytosis executes delayed neuronal death after focal brain ischemiaProc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:E4098-107 (Abstract)

Research group leader
Dr. Jonas Neher Address

Center of Neurology
Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
Department Cellular Neurology

Otfried-Müller-Straße 27
72076 Tübingen

Phone: +49 (0)7071 925-4351

list of publications