Associate Professor. Principal Investigator

Amsterdam UMC - location AMC, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Research Group


Hypothalamic Neuron-Glia Interaction

Our lab’s primary focus is on dissecting the molecular mechanisms involved in hypothalamic neuron-glia interactions that regulate energy homeostasis. We investigate these mechanisms at various levels, including intercellular communication, intracellular metabolism, and organelle interactions.

Until recently, our understanding was limited to the canonical concept that the brain’s metabolic sensing and regulation were predominantly controlled by neurons and neuronal pathways. However, recent discoveries have expanded this understanding, revealing that the microenvironment surrounding neurons plays a crucial role, supported and maintained by other cell types. Specifically, microglia serve as immune homeostatic regulators within this microenvironment, clearing cellular debris and initiating immune responses.

Our recent research has uncovered that, under hypercaloric challenges, microglia in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus assume a proinflammatory-like state. This activation is linked to functional changes in the neuronal networks involved in maintaining energy balance. We aim to further explore specific cellular contacts between different cell subpopulations and the effects of neurotransmission on glial function at the level of intercellular communication. Additionally, we seek to understand how microglia modulate their phagocytic activity and inflammatory response under various pathophysiological conditions.

For translational studies, we utilize postmortem human brain tissue donated by individuals with obesity, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or Prader-Willi Syndrome. Through profiling gene and protein expressions associated with these diseases and potential treatments, we aim to bridge our basic research findings with clinical applications.

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