BMC-GPMLS: Distinguished lecture series
Prof. Dr. Med. Frank Heppner
Chairman of the Department of Neuropathology,
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
Title: Immune actions in Alzheimer’s disease
Time: Thursday, March 10th at 11:00
Location: Hringsalur, Childrens Hospital
Abstract: Long considered immune-privileged, rich interactions between the brain and the immune system have been recently identified and shown to play important roles in health and disease. In neurodegenerative diseases, in particular, the impact of the immune system on disease pathogenesis and progression recently has gained great attention. A major focus of our research is microglia, the brain´s intrinsic macrophages, which play important roles in CNS development, homeostasis and as first responders to pathological events. While it appears that early microglia actions in AD have beneficial effects, Aβ-associated chronic activation of microglia resulting in the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-12 and -23 exacerbates AD progression. Inhibiting microglial IL-12 and/or IL-23 either by genetic or pharmacological means in an AD mouse model exhibiting cerebral amyloidosis substantially alleviated AD pathology such as Aβ burden and cognition, while the IL-12/23 signaling pathway in AD appears to involve other cellular resident CNS players. These data underscore the importance of dissecting the detailed immune mechanisms active in AD, and explain why future efforts aimed at tackling AD by modulating immune actions present an exciting and challenging new research front and offer novel promising therapeutic options.
Bio: Frank Heppner received his medical training at the Universities of Lübeck, Hamburg, Berlin, and London and received his doctorate from the Institute of Anatomy at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. He did his postdoctoral fellowship and residency in Neuropathology at the University of Zurich and worked as a neuropathologist at the University of Zurich for 8 years. In 2007, he moved back to Germany and was appointed a full Professor and Chair of the Neuropathology Department at Charité. His research group is active in the field of experimental neuropathology, focusing on three major areas. These areas include the immunological aspects of neurological disorders, immunotherapy of neurodegenerative diseases and the biology of the brain’s resident macrophages: microglia.
Throughout his career, Frank Heppner has received numerous prizes and recognitions including a Research Fellowship of the Leopoldina-Foundation and the Pfizer-Award for Neurosciences and Diseases of the Nervous System in 2003. In 2006 he received the Siegenthaler-Habilitation Award and in 2010 he was appointed the spokesman of the SFB TRR 43 "The brain as a target of inflammatory processes".