Extracellular Vesicles in neuron-glia communication and CNS homeostasis
The nervous system is formed by a network of closely interacting neurons and glial cells. Our research interest is focussed on the molecular mechanisms of cell communication between neurons and glial cells, in particular myelinating oligodendrocytes and neurons, which form a functional unit in the CNS.
We are studying membrane-enclosed vesicles, termed Extracellular Vesicles, which deliver biomolecules including lipids, proteins and nucleic acids between cells. Our work revealed that myelinating oligodendrocytes release Extracellular Vesicles (largely exosomes derived from the endomembrane system of cells), which travel to neurons in response to neuronal activity and promote neuronal maintenance. We are investigating the functional role of glia-derived Extracellular Vesicles in long-term neuronal maintenance and homeostasis and their molecular mode of action using in vitro models as well as transgenic mouse models. We aim at better understanding of the homeostatic as well as neurodegenerative processes, which occur in brain disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis and moreover during aging.
Furthermore, Extracellular Vesicles provide a means to deliver physiological signals and cargo also across the borders of the brain and we would like to better understand their role in brain-periphery communication. To this end, we are studying human and mouse models of exercise known to promote brain homeostasis and prevent neurodegeneration.
References and review articles:
Mechanisms of axonal support by oligodendrocyte-derived extracellular vesicles. Krämer-Albers EM., Werner HB. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2023 May 31. doi: 10.1038/s41583-023-00711-y.
Oligodendrocytes support axonal transport and maintenance via exosome secretion. PLoS Biol. 2020 Dec 22;18(12):e3000621. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000621.
Neurotransmitter-triggered transfer of exosomes mediates oligodendrocyte-neuron communication. Frühbeis C, Fröhlich D, Kuo WP, Amphornrat J, Thilemann S, Saab AS, Kirchhoff F, Möbius W, Goebbels S, Nave KA, Schneider A, Simons M, Klugmann M, Trotter J, Krämer-Albers EM. PLoS Biol. 2013 Jul;11(7):e1001604. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001604.