The neurovascular unit as a drug target

Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

Group Members

Markus Schwaninger (Group leader)
Wiebke Brandt (Technician)
Sina Schultz (PostDoc)
Yun Jiang (PostDoc)
Josephine Lampe (PhD student)
Elvira Sandin (PhD student)
Hanna Graßhoff (MD)
Jakob Vielhauer (MD student)
Laura Hölzen (MD student)
Tammo Gürtzgen (MD student)

Research Interests

The human brain represents only 2% of the body mass but consumes 20% of its energy. The high energy use makes the brain vulnerable to a shortage of blood supply as occurs in stroke. In this disorder the energy deficit will lead to the death of neural cells and an inflammatory response that modulates tissue demise. Our group investigates signaling pathways through which ischemia induces neuroinflammation. A current focus is on how peripheral metabolic factors such as glucose influence inflammation in the brain. Conversely, an energy deficit in the brain may affect systemic metabolism and lead to obesity. In this context, we analyze the regulation of food intake focusing on similar neural mechanisms as in our stroke projects.


  • Thomas Wunderlich, MPI for Metabolism Research Cologne
  • Claus Pietrzik, University Medical Center Mainz

Latest Publications

  1. Ridder DA, Wenzel J, Müller K, Töllner K, Tong XK, Assmann JC, Stroobants S, Weber T, Niturad C, Fischer L, Lembrich B, Wolburg H, Grand’Maison M, Papadopoulos P, Korpos E, Truchetet F, Rades D, Sorokin LM, Schmidt-Supprian M, Bedell BJ, Pasparakis M, Balschun D, D’Hooge R, Löscher W, Hamel E, Schwaninger M (2015) Brain endothelial TAK1 and NEMO safegaurd the neurovascular unit. J Exp Med 212: 1529-1549
  2. Chen H, Assmann JC, Krenz A, Rahman M, Grimm M, Karsten CM, Köhl J, Offermanns S, Wettschureck N, Schwaninger M. (2014) Hydroxycarboxylic acid receptor 2 mediates dimethyl fumarate’s protective effect in EAE. J Clin Invest 124: 2188-2192.
  3. Rahman M, Muhammad S, Khan MA, Chen H, Ridder DA, Müller-Fielitz H, Pokorna B, Vollbrandt T, Stölting I, Nadrowitz R, Okun JG, Offermanns S, Schwaninger M (2014) The β-hydroxybutyrate receptor HCA2 activates a neuroprotective subset of macrophages. Nat Commun 5: 3944
  4. Ridder DA, Lang MF, Salinin S, Röderer JP, Struss M, Maser-Gluth C, Schwaninger M (2011) TAK1 in brain endothelial cells mediates fever and lethargy. J Exp Med 208: 2615-23
  5. Bargiotas P, Krenz A, Hormuzdi SG, Ridder DA, Herb A, Barakat W, Penuela S, von Engelhardt J, Monyer H, Schwaninger M (2011) Pannexins in ischemia-induced neurodegeneration. Proc Natl. Acad Sci USA 108: 20772-7