Microglia and Neuroinflammation

Dr. Annett Halle

Areas of investigation/research focus

Microglial cells are cells of the innate immune system in the brain and act as the first form of immune defense in the central nervous system. Furthermore, microglial cells are key players in brain maintenance by constantly interacting with neurons and synapses and acting as scavenger cells.

Microglial cells play an important role in the initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

We are interested in the molecular mechanisms that shape microglial behavior under physiological conditions and in Alzheimer’s disease.

We address questions such as: How do microglial properties, such as their phagocytic capacity or cell motility, change during Alzheimer’s disease? Do these changes influence disease progression? Are microglial changes dependent on the disease stage? Is there one homogeneous population of microglial cells in the Alzheimer’s brain or are there functional subgroups? Which signaling pathways are activated in Alzheimer’s disease and can they be modulated in a therapeutically meaningful way?

To address these open issues, we use cell biological and functional assays and work in close collaboration with DZNE-based groups on the transcriptomic regulation in microglia. Furthermore, we have developed innovative microscopy-based techniques and image analysis software to study the cellular behavior of microglia in cell culture and in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.

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