"While the world slowed down, science speeded up!”

Pierluigi Nicotera, DZNE Chairmann


Covid-19 is popularly considered to be a disease of the lungs, which in severe cases can lead to death due to failure of the respiratory system. On the other hand, symptoms indicating neurological effects of the disease are also commonly known, such as loss of the sense of smell and taste as well as forgetfulness and reduced motivation as a result of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Neurodegenerative diseases in their entire spectrum remain the designated research subject of the DZNE - from the molecular basis to patient care in nursing homes. However, challenges and methods in the research of neurodegenerative diseases are quite alike to the tasks that the new virus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease Covid-19 confront us with - in many places there are even clear parallels.



  • Causes and mechanisms of disease development are neither completely identified for neurodegenerative diseases, nor for Covid-19 yet. In order to make further progress here, state-of-the-art research methods and technologies from molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics and medical imaging are necessary, which the DZNE greatly can provide. 
  • The human immune system and its antibodies against pathogens from outside as well as against endogenous substances play important roles - both in neurodegenerative diseases and for various courses of Covid-19.
  • Elderly people are most affected by diseases such as Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, but also by severe Covid-19 courses. People with dementia are dependent on care, live in nursing homes to a large disproportionate extent, and thus carry a significantly higher Covid infection risk. 
  • Decoding these diseases is so complex that it cannot be solved by any one discipline alone or in a single institution - no matter how competent they may be. What is needed are coordinated, interdisciplinary approaches as well as collaborations between different, specialized partners. With its 10 sites in Germany and its nationally and internationally interconnected structure, the DZNE has been designed for this type of collaboration since its founding.


Since the outbreak of the pandemic, researchers at the DZNE have therefore also been contributing their expertise and resources to the global fight against Covid-19. According to the motto "While the world slowed down, science speeded up!”, researchers are working at full speed to provide scientifically sound answers and sustainably effective solutions to the global problem.


We have compiled a selection of published results for you



Research cooperations

The DZNE is part of a number of consortiums among universities, university hospitals, and other institutions coordinating their Covid-related research projects, resources, and results with each other.
> Press releases:

Antibody/passive vaccination

One of the ways for the body to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus is through antibodies. These can be produced with industrial precision and are thus suitable for passive vaccination, i.e. a defense against the coronavirus that is not triggered by the immune system itself. Researchers at the DZNE in Berlin have identified a number of suitable antibodies, confirmed their efficacy, and are now collaborating with a biotechnology company to develop a passive vaccination on this basis.
> Press release:


Immune response

Different people react in different ways to an infection with SARS-CoV-2. But why do some people hardly notice an infection, while in others it is severe or even fatal? Part of the answer lies in gene activity and immune system functioning. Researchers at the DZNE in Bonn, among others, have been investigating how this can lead to more precise, patient-specific treatments.
> Press releases:

Virus propagation / Molecular mechanics

Which factors favor the entry of the virus into the cell, which cell types are particularly at risk, and which reproductive mechanisms ensure a particularly effective replication of the viral genome in the infected cells? Researchers at various DZNE sites have found answers to these questions using molecular biological methods.  
> Press releases:


Health determinants and seroprevalence

More than 5,000 participants in a longitudinal study (the Rhineland Study in Bonn, Germany) were screened for current or past infection with SARS-CoV2 to examine the impact of general health, lifestyle, and immune status on disease progression.
> Press releases:

Citizen-Science-App: Corona and cognitive performance

An app developed jointly with a start-up at the DZNE site in Magdeburg is investigating whether and what effects a covid disease has on memory performance as part of a citizen science project.
> Press release:

Our publications in the context of DZNE-Covid research

Publication overview


Aschenbrenner et al. Disease severity-specific neutrophil signatures in blood transcriptomes stratify COVID-19 patients. Genome Med. 2021 Jan 13;13(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s13073-020-00823-5.

Campanella et al. Special Report on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Clinical EEG and Research and Consensus Recommendations for the Safe Use of EEG. Clin EEG Neurosci. 2021 Jan;52(1):3-28. doi: 10.1177/1550059420954054. Epub 2020 Sep 25.

Erdur et al. Stroke Admissions, Stroke Severity, and Treatment Rates in Urban and Rural Areas During the COVID-19 Pandemic.Front Neurol. 2021 Jan 6;11:607193. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.607193. eCollection 2020.


Ammar et al. Effects of COVID-19 Home Confinement on Eating Behaviour and Physical Activity: Results of the ECLB-COVID19 International Online Survey. Nutrients. 2020 May 28;12(6):1583. doi: 10.3390/nu12061583.

Ammar et al. Psychological consequences of COVID-19 home confinement: The ECLB-COVID19 multicenter study. PLoS One. 2020 Nov 5;15(11):e0240204. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240204. eCollection 2020.

Ammar et al. COVID-19 Home Confinement Negatively Impacts Social Participation and Life Satisfaction: A Worldwide Multicenter Study.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 27;17(17):6237. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176237.

Aziz et al. Seroprevalence and correlates of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies: Results from a population-based study in Bonn, GermanyRhineland Study starts large-scale blood test.medRxiv. 2020  08.24.20181206. doi: 10.1101/2020.08.24.20181206

Bernardes et al. Longitudinal Multi-omics Analyses Identify Responses of Megakaryocytes, Erythroid Cells, and Plasmablasts as Hallmarks of Severe COVID-19.Immunity. 2020 Dec 15;53(6):1296-1314.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.11.017. Epub 2020 Nov 26.

Cantuti-Castelvetri et al. Neuropilin-1 facilitates SARS-CoV-2 cell entry and infectivity. Science 2020. doi: 10.1126/science.abd2985

De Domenico et al. Optimized workflow for single-cell transcriptomics on infectious diseases including COVID-19. STAR Protoc. 2020 Dec 16;1(3):100233. doi: 10.1016/j.xpro.2020.100233. eCollection 2020 Dec 18.

Dietzel et al. A Joint Action in Times of Pandemic: The German BioImaging Recommendations for Operating Imaging Core Facilities During the SARS-Cov-2 Emergency. Cytometry A. 2020 Sep;97(9):882-886. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.24178. Epub 2020 Jul 18.

Franke et al. High frequency of cerebrospinal fluid autoantibodies in COVID-19 patients with neurological symptoms. Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Dec 24:S0889-1591(20)32465-X. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.12.022. Online ahead of print.

Kreye et al. Do cross-reactive antibodies cause neuropathology in COVID-19? Nature Reviews Immunology 2020 doi: 10.1038/s41577-020-00458-y

Kreye et al. A therapeutic non-self-reactive SARS-CoV-2 antibody protects from lung pathology in a COVID-19 hamster model.Cell 2020 doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.09.049

Kubon et al. Face Tuning in Depression. Cereb Cortex. 2020 Dec 22:bhaa375. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhaa375. Online ahead of print.

Schulte-Schrepping et al. Severe COVID-19 is marked by a dysregulated myeloid cell compartment.Cell 2020. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2020.08.001

Meinhardt et al. Olfactory transmucosal SARS-CoV-2 invasion as a port of central nervous system entry in individuals with COVID-19. Nat Neurosci. 2020 Nov 30. doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-00758-5.

Mok et al. Tackling challenges in care of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias amid the COVID-19 pandemic, now and in the future. Alzheimers Dement. 2020 Nov;16(11):1571-1581. doi: 10.1002/alz.12143. Epub 2020 Aug 12.

Möhn et al. Implications of COVID-19 Outbreak on Immune Therapies in Multiple Sclerosis Patients-Lessons Learned From SARS and MERS. Front Immunol. 2020 May 12;11:1059. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.01059. eCollection 2020.

Möhn et al. Experience in Multiple Sclerosis Patients with COVID-19 and Disease-Modifying Therapies: A Review of 873 Published Cases. J Clin Med. 2020 Dec 16;9(12):4067. doi: 10.3390/jcm9124067.

Pavlova et al. Face pareidolia in the brain: Impact of gender and orientation. PLoS One. 2020 Dec 31;15(12):e0244516. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0244516. eCollection 2020.

Ramilowski et al. Functional annotation of human long noncoding RNAs via molecular phenotyping. Genome Res. 2020 Jul;30(7):1060-1072. doi: 10.1101/gr.254219.119. Epub 2020 Jul 27.

Savastano et al. Nucleocapsid protein of SARS-CoV-2 phase separates into RNA-rich polymerase-containing condensates. Nat Commun. 2020 Nov 27;11(1):6041. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19843-1.

Singh et al. A Single-Cell RNA Expression Map of Human Coronavirus Entry Factors. Cell Rep. 2020 Sep 22;32(12):108175. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108175.

Tiedt et al. Impact of the COVID-19-pandemic on thrombectomy services in Germany. Neurol Res Pract. 2020 Nov 23;2:44. doi: 10.1186/s42466-020-00090-0. eCollection 2020.

Thyrian et al. The situation of elderly with cognitive impairment living at home during lockdown in the Corona-pandemic in Germany. BMC Geriatr. 2020 Dec 29;20(1):540. doi: 10.1186/s12877-020-01957-2.

Thyrian et al. Die Prävalenz an Demenz erkrankter Menschen in Deutschland – eine bundesweite Analyse auf Kreisebene. Nervenarzt 2020 doi: 10.1007/s00115-020-00923-y


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