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Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology

Research Areas

Fast Network Oscillations

Rhythmic activity is a key functional feature of the brain, as evident from the well-known EEG-rhythms. Meanwhile, many neuroscientists agree that such network oscillations are «meaningful» and provide an important background for temporal coding of information. In our group we focus on one type of network oscillations in the rodent hippocampus, namely «ripples» at ~200 Hz as originally described by John O´Keefe, G. Buszáki and others. We want to elucidate the precise mechanisms by which neurons are entrained to fire at high precision within these short (5 ms) cycles. Moreover, we would like to find out why certain neurons participate in this network while others do not.

Function of GABAergic Synapses

The complex organisation of central synapses offers multiple mechanisms for regulation and modulation of synaptic strength. We focus on inhibitory synapses in the mammalian CNS which use GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) as transmitter. The availability of GABA is regulated by its synthesis, degradation and after release-uptake. In situations of over-excitability, the GABA-synthetizing enzyme GAD is up-regulated while a decrease of neuronal activity leads to a down-regulation of GAD. Thus, cellular GABA content seems to be an activity-dependent, variable parameter. We propose that the presynaptic GABA metabolism is a true and autonomous mechanism of synaptic plasticity. We are presently testing this hypothesis using various electrophysiological, histological and biochemical techniques.

Synaptic Physiology and Pharmacology of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is characterized by a chronic state of recurrent pathological hypersynchronous electrical activity in the brain or parts of the brain. A very simple pathophysiologcal concept could ascribe epilepsy to a disturbed balance between excitation and inhibition in the affected circuits. Certainly, this idea is a gross over-simplification. Nevertheless, some of the most efficient anticonvulsant drugs act by strengthening synaptic inhibition. We are interested in the mechanisms of action of such drugs at the synaptic, cellular and network level. Moreover, we search for changes in synaptic innervation of hippocampal neurons in models of temporal lobe epilepsy. Such efforts should help to clarify why epileptic seizures alter the hippocampal circuitry in a way which promotes further epileptogenesis, contributing to the chronic (and often progressive) nature of this frequent disease.

Recent Publications


Endothelial progenitor cells accelerate endothelial regeneration in an in vitro model of Shigatoxin-2a-induced injury via soluble growth factors. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2018 Mar 7. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00633.2017. [Epub ahead of print]


Astrocytic glutamine synthetase is expressed in the neuronal somatic layers and down-regulated proportionally to neuronal loss in the human epileptic hippocampus. Glia. 2018 May;66(5):920-933. doi: 10.1002/glia.23292. Epub 2018 Jan 19.


Expansion of functional personalized cells with specific transgene combinations. Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 8;9(1):994. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03408-4.


Impact of carbonylation on glutathione peroxidase-1 activity in human hyperglycemic endothelial cells. Redox Biol. 2018 Feb 27;16:113-122. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2018.02.018. [Epub ahead of print]


Respiration-Entrained Brain Rhythms Are Global but Often Overlooked. Trends Neurosci. 2018 Feb 8. pii: S0166-2236(18)30031-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2018.01.007. [Epub ahead of print] Review.


Modulation of glutathione peroxidase activity by age-dependent carbonylation in glomeruli of diabetic mice. J Diabetes Complications. 2018 Feb;32(2):130-138. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2017.11.007. Epub 2017 Nov 22.


Bringing European physiologists together. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2018 Jan 29. doi: 10.1111/apha.13043. [Epub ahead of print]


Role of protein carbonylation in diabetes. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2018 Jan;41(1):29-38. doi: 10.1007/s10545-017-0104-9. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


Sensitive mass spectrometric assay for determination of 15-deoxy-Δ12,14-prostaglandin J2 and its application in human plasma samples of patients with diabetes. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2018 Jan;410(2):521-528. doi: 10.1007/s00216-017-0748-1. Epub 2017 Nov 16.


Hypertension-evoked RhoA activity in vascular smooth muscle cells requires RGS5. FASEB J. 2017 Dec 5. pii: fj.201700384RR. doi: 10.1096/fj.201700384RR. [Epub ahead of print]

Institute of
Physiology and Pathophysiology

Heidelberg University

Im Neuenheimer Feld 326

69120 Heidelberg


Phone:+49 6221 54-4035
Fax:+49 6221 54-4038