Fex Svenningsen gruppen

  Åsa Fex Svenningsen
  Lektor, PhD, Associate Professor
  Neurobiologisk Forskning
  Phone: 6550 3812 Mobile: 2065 4961
  Email: aasvenningsen@health.sdu.dk

Information about our research

It is important to understand development, to understand neurodegenerative disease and regeneration of the nervous system. Our research focus is on neural and glial communication in development and disease.  We are especially interested in the molecules used by the different cells to understand each other when differentiating and growing. These are often the ones that are lacking or secreted in too high concentrations in disease.
The research we carry out is mostly based on primary cell cultures of glia and neurons from both the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). In these cultures, it is possible to investigate different aspects of communication, such as proliferation, migration, axon and dendrite elongation, synapse formation and myelination. However, in recent years we have also started to participate in animal experiments, particularly those that mimics stages in Multiple Sclerosis.

Current projects

During the last years we have focused our research in two proteins that bind to each other and are present in both development and disease. The proteins are Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) and the serine protease HTRA1. We have recently found that MIF inhibits the enzymatic action of HTRA1.

1. The function of MIF and HTRA1 in Multiple Sclerosis: Both proteins have been identified in several diseases, but very little is known about what they do.  Examples of such diseases are Alzheimers disease, sepsis and arthritis.
In my group we work with the functions of MIF and HTRA1 in Multiple Sclerosis. This is done both in patient material, in primary cells and using a mouse model of MS. In this project we collaborate with Professor Zsolt Illes and Tobias Sejbæk Mathiesen PhD, both at the Dept. of Neurology, OUH and Professor Jan Lycke at MS Center, Dept. of Neurology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital In Gothenburg, Sweden.

2. The function of MIF and HTRA1 in development: Very little is known about MIF and HTRA1 in development although some data suggest that both proteins are involved in the developmental process. HTRA1 as an enzyme that breaks down misfolded or excessive proteins. MIF works both as a cytokine in the immune system and likely also as a growth factor. Both proteins are secreted from cells.
In this project we are investigating the function of the two proteins in the developing nervous system. We are investigating the function of the proteins and their receptors in vitro in primary cells. We collaborate with Professor Zsolt Illes at OUH, Associate Professor Morten Meyer at SDU, Associate professor Malin Andersson from Dept. Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Sweden, Associate Professor Christian Bjerggaard Vægter, Dept. of Biomedicine, University, Århus, Denmark and Professor Lars Dahlin, Dept. of Experimental Pathology, University of Lund, Sweden.

Principle investigator

Åsa Fex Svenningsen obtained her BSc in biology at Lund University in Sweden, 1991. She got her PhD in Neurobiology at the Department of Cell and Organism Biology at Lund University, Sweden in 1999, working on the mechanisms of injury induced Schwann cell proliferation. Åsa did a 4-year postdoc 1999-2003, at the department of Neuroscience at Mt Sinai School of Medicine, with Professor David Colman, working with myelination and neuron-glia communication. The postdoc was sponsored by the Fulbright Foundation, Swedish Institute and the Swedish Brain Foundation.
In 2003 Åsa Fex Svenningsen received a 4-year position from the Swedish science council (VR-medicin) as an associate professor at the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University, where she formed a group working on neuron-glia communication and neurotoxicology. She became an associate professor (docent) in 2008 at Uppsala University, Sweden. Åsa Fex Svenningsen was recruited to the Dept. of Molecular Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark in 2009 and is a member of the Danish, Swedish and American Societies for Neuroscience. Åsa is also a member of the board of The Danish Society for Neuroscience (DSfN).


This work is funded by:

Jascahfonden, Scleroseforeningen, Hans og Oda Svenningsens fond, Knud og Edit Eriksens Mindefond, Johansen og hustrus Mindelegat samt Civilingeniør Bent Bøgh og Hustru Inge Bøghs Fond. 



• Åsa Fex Svenningsen, Associate professor
• Helle Vinsløv Jensen, Technician
• Simone Hjæresen (PhD studerende)• Helene Kronborg (master student) • Anne With Mikkelsen (master student) • Rune Øbo (master student)


Applied methodologies, techniques and facilities

• Western blotting
• Protein characterization
• Immunochemistry
• Quantitative PCR
• Primary Cell cultures (rat and mouse)
• Confocal microscopy
• Functional analysis of cells (Proliferation,migration, Phagocyosis and myelination)

Courses and teaching

I really enjoy teaching and interacting with students. I think that quality  of teaching well is very important and I try my very best to give my student both quality and updated teaching. I am lucky in the sense that most people enjoy learning about the brain and the nervous system.

- Course leader: SU802, Medical Neurobiology (Master level course)

- Course leader: SU519 Physiology and Pharmacology for Pharmacists (includes Neurobiology and Endocrinology -Bachelor level)

In SU802 I take most of the lectures and in SU519, I take all lectures and practicals in neurobiology

Popular science lectures: I hold several popular science lectures each year, for student organizations in Odense Aalborg and Copenhagen. This year I also lecture in a course at voksenskolen. I lecture in Danish, English and Swedish.

Current Collaborations:

• University of Southern Denmark
• Odense University Hospital
• Lund University, Lund Sweden
• Uppsala University, Sweden
• Gothenburg University, Sweden
• Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Napoli, Italy


Recent Publications

1. Orthologous proteins of experimental de and remyelination are differentially regulated in the CSF proteome of multiple sclerosis subtypes. Martin NA, Nawrocki A, Molnar V, Elkjaer ML, Thygesen EK, Palkovits M, Acs P, Sejbaek T, Nielsen HH, Hegedus Z, Sellebjerg F, Molnar T, Barbosa EGV, Alcaraz N, Gallyas F Jr, Svenningsen ÅF, Baumbach J, Lassmann H, Larsen MR, Illes Z.PLoS One. 2018 Aug 16;13(8):e0202530. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0202530. eCollection 2018.

2. Experimental Demyelination and Axonal Loss Are Reduced in MicroRNA-146a Deficient Mice. N. A. Martin, V. Molnar, G. T. Szilagyi, M. L. Elkjaer, A. Nawrocki, J. Okarmus, A. Wlodarczyk, E. K. Thygesen, M. Palkovits, F. Gallyas Jr, M. R. Larsen, H. Lassmann, E. Benedikz, T. Owens, Å. Fex-Svenningsen, Z. Illes, Front. Immunol. 2018 Mar 12;9:490. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00490. eCollection 2018.

3. Psychiatry in a Dish: Stem Cells and Brain Organoids Modeling Autism Spectrum Disorders. M. Ilieva, Å. Fex Svenningsen, M. Thorsen T.M. Michel. Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Apr 1;83(7):558-568.

4. Expression and regulation of CYP17A1 and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in cells of the nervous system: Potential effects of vitamin D on brain steroidogenesis. I. M. Emanuelsson, M. Almokhtar, K. Wikvall, A. Grönbladh, E. Nylander, A. L. Svensson, Å. Fex Svenningsen, M. Norlin. Neurochem Int. 2018 Feb;113: 46-55.

5. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) modulates trophic signaling through interaction with serine protease HTRA1. Å. Fex Svenningsen, S. Löring, A. L. Sørensen, H. U. B. Huynh, S. Hjæresen, N. A. Martin, J.B. Moeller, M. L. Elkjær, U. Holmskov, Z. Illes, M. Andersson M, S. B. Nielsen, E. Benedikz. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2017 Dec;74(24):4561-4572.

6. Opioid precursor protein isoform is targeted to the cell nuclei in the human brain. O. Kononenko, I Brazov, H. Watanabe, G. Gerashchenko, O. Dyachok, D.S. Verbeek, K. Alkass, H. Druid, M. Andersson, J. Mulder, Å. F. Svenningsen G. Rajakowska, C. A. Stockheimer, O Krishtal, T. Yakovleva, G. Bakalkin. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017 Feb;1861 (2):246-255.

7. Genetic Ablation of Soluble TNF Does Not Affect Lesion Size and Functional Recovery after Moderate Spinal Cord Injury in Mice. D.G. Elleman, M. Degn, M. Christiansen Lund, B.Hjem Clausen, H. Gram Novrup, S. Bertram Flæng, S. Helskov Jørgensen, L. Suntharalingam, Fex Svenningsen Å, R. Brambilla, K. Lykke Lambertsen. Mediators of Inflammation Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 2684098.

8. The Schizophrenia Susceptibility Gene ZNF804A is highly expressed during brain development, particularly in growth cones. K. Hvid Hinna, K. Rich, Å. Fex-Svenningsen, E. Benedikz. PlosOne 06 Jul 2015, 10 (7): e0132456

9. GABA and its B-receptor are present at the node of Ranvier in a small population of sensory fibers, implicating a role in myelination. M. Corell, G. Wicher, K. J. Radomska, E. D. Dağlıkoca, R. Elberg Godskesen, R. Fredriksson, E. Benedikz, V. Magnaghi, Å. Fex Svenningsen. J Neuroscience Res 93:285–295 (2015)

10. Oxaliplatin-Induced Neuropathy in Colorectal Cancer: Many Questions With Few Answers. H. Zedan, T. Frøstrup Hansen, A. Fex Svenningsen, O. J. Vilholm. Clinical Colorectal Cancer 2014 Jun;13(2):73-80.

11. Repair of the Peripheral Nerve—Remyelination that Works. Å. Fex Svennigsen, L. B Dahlin Brain Sci. 2013 Aug 2;3(3):1182-97.

12. MALDI mass spectrometry based molecular phenotyping of CNS glial cells for prediction in mammalian brain tissue. J. Hanrieder, G. Wicher, J. Bergquist, M. Andersson, A. Fex-Svenningsen. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 2011 Jul;401(1):135-47.

13. Effects on DHEA levels by estrogen in rat astrocytes and CNS co-cultures via the regulation of CYP7B1-mediated metabolism. A. Fex Svenningsen, G. Wicher, J. Lundqvist, H. Pettersson, M.l Corell, M. Norlin. Neurochemistry International 2011 May;58(6):620-4.