Glycosphingolipids in the central nervous system – key players in obesity, type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease

ViolaViola Nordström

Department of Cellular and Molecular Pathology (G130)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg
Phone:  +49-6221-42 4368
Fax:  +49-6221-42 4352

photo: christoph bastert PHOTOGRAPHIE

Research Summary

We investigate the role of membrane lipids in the etiology and progression of obesity, type-2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. We are specifically interested in gangliosides, a subclass of glycosphingolipids that are particularly highly expressed in cells of the nervous system.

We have detected that gangliosides in hypothalamic neurons regulate body weight. Currently, we are studying how gangliosides in neurons, astrocytes, and microglia affect neuroinflammation, which is observed in severe cases of obesity and which often precedes the onset of sporadic Alzheimer's disease.

Moreover, we investigate connections between brain insulin resistance and neurodegeneration. Ganglioside-deficient neurons are more insulin sensitive. Consequently, we have shown that ganglioside reduction is beneficial for neuron survival and cognitive capacity in models of Alzheimer's disease.

In summary, we aim to clarify if obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease may be regarded, prevented, and treated as “diseases of central nervous membrane lipids”.

Structure of the Group

Group Leader: Viola Nordström
Postdoc: Silke Herzer
PhD Student: Vanessa Dieterle
Undergraduate Students: Vanessa Götschl, Simona Schindler


Editor: Email
Latest Revision: 2018-12-11
zum Seitenanfang/up