Skip to main content

Fex Svenningsen group

  Åsa Fex Svenningsen
  Lektor, PhD, Associate Professor
 Department of Neurobiology Research
  Phone: 6550 3812 Mobile: 2065 4961

Information about our research

It is important to understand development in order to understand neurodegenerative disease and regeneration of the nervous system. Our research focuses on neural and glial development.  We are especially interested in neuron-glia communication and the molecules used by the different cells to understand each other when differentiating and growing. 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 the cultures it is possible to investigate different aspects of communication, such as proliferation, migration, axon and dendrite elongation, synapse formation and myelination, using different molecular methods. 

Current projects

1. GABA and GABA B receptors in glial development: We are currently investigating the role of GABA and its receptors in the PNS. We have found that GABA is generated by the neurons, and Schwann cells of the PNS and that GABA acting via its B-receptors may be essential for myelination in the nervous system. The project is a collaboration with Mikael Corell, Grzegorz Wicher and Robert Fredriksson at Uppsala University, Sweden, Duygu Daglikoca, Bogazici University, Turkey and Eirikur Benedikz from SDU.

2. Nerve regeneration in the adult PNS: Every day people are involved in accidents that cause nerve damage. Nerve injuries to the peripheral nervous system (arms and legs) are the most common type of nerve injury. The existing procedure used to repair such injuries is not sufficient since only about 40% of the patients regain some movement and sensation in the injured limb. Together with hand surgeons, neurologists and material scientists (from Denmark and Sweden) we are currently working on a new and better method to improve the healing of such injuries. My group work with Schwann cells, essential glial cells, needed for the regeneration process. The work includes understanding how the glial cells react after injury, how we can make the patients own cells proliferate enough and how the cells will work together with axons and new biomaterials used for the healing.

3. The role of MIF in glial development: It has recently been discovered that the protein Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) is up-regulated in several neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis,  but also in stroke and nerve injury. The function of MIF in the nervous system is not clear. We have found that in particular glial cells express MIF and that the expression varies during development. We are currently working to better understand what MIF does in glia during development, to get a better idea of what it does in neurodegenerative disease. This is done first by investigating the over all expression of MIF in the nervous system, during development. Finding new binding partners to MIF to understand what cell signalling MIF is involved in and finally to block or overexpress the function of MIF in cells and animals. This work is a collaboration with Dr. Malin Andersson, University of Uppsala, Sweden and Eirikur Benedikz at SDU.

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 Dr. 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 and associate professor (docent) in 2008 at Uppsala University, Sweden. Åsa Fex Svenningsen was recruited to the University of Southern Denmark in 2009 and is a member of the Danish, Swedish and American Societies for Neuroscience. Åsa is also of the board of European Society of Toxicology in vitro (ESTIV).

The work is funded by: The Swedish Science council (VR-Medicin), Åhlenstiftelsen, Novonordisk foundation.


  • Åsa Fex Svenningsen, Associate professor
  • Helle Vinsløv Jensen, Technician
  • Stine Hansen (master student)
  • Julie Schwencke Mortensen (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 and myelination)


Course leader: SU802, Medical Neurobiology (Master course)
Course leader: SU514 Anatomy and Neurobiology (Bachelor course)

Collaborations with:

  • University of Uppsala, Sweden
  • University of Lund Sweden
  • Linköping University, Sweden
  • University of Oulu, Finland
  • University of Bergen, Norway
  • University College London
  • Bogazici University, Turkey
  • Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA
  • National Institute of Health (NIH), Bethesda USA


Recent Publications

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

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

Spatiotemporal distribution and function of N-cadherin in postnatal Schwann cells: A matter of adhesion? Corell M, Wicher G, Limbach C, Kilimann MW, Colman DR, Fex Svenningsen Å. J Neurosci Res. 2010 Aug 15;88(11):2338-49.

Optimization of chemically defined cell culture media--replacing fetal bovine serum in mammalian in vitro methods. van der Valk J, Brunner D, De Smet K, Fex Svenningsen A, Honegger P, Knudsen LE, Lindl T, Noraberg J, Price A, Scarino ML, Gstraunthaler G. Toxicol In Vitro. 2010 Jun;24(4):1053-63.

A low ethanol dose affects all types of cells in mixed long-term embryonic cultures of the cerebellum. Pickering C, Wicher G, Rosendahl S, Schiöth HB, Fex Svenningsen A. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2010 Jun;106(6):472-8. Epub 2010 Jan 14.

In vitro neurotoxicity of PBDE-99: immediate and concentration-dependent effects on protein expression in cerebral cortex cells.

Alm H, Scholz B, Kultima K, Nilsson A, Andrén PE, Savitski MM, Bergman A, Stigson M, Fex Svenningsen A, Dencker L. J Proteome Res. 2010 Mar 5;9(3):1226-35.

MDMA (Ecstasy) decreases the number of neurons and stem cells in embryonic cortical cultures. Kindlundh-Högberg AM, Pickering C, Wicher G, Hobér D, Schiöth HB, Fex Svenningsen A. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Jan;30(1):13-21. Epub 2009 Jun 19.

Extracellular clusterin promotes neuronal network complexity in vitro. Wicher G, Fex Svenningsen A, Velsecchi I, Charnay Y, Aldskogius H. Neuroreport. 2008 Oct 8;19(15):1487-91.

Environmental cues from CNS, PNS, and ENS cells regulate CNS progenitor differentiation. Brännvall K, Corell M, Forsberg-Nilsson K, Fex Svenningsen A. Neuroreport. 2008 Aug 27;19(13):1283-9.

Exposure to brominated flame retardant PBDE-99 affects cytoskeletal protein expression in the neonatal mouse cerebral cortex. Alm H, Kultima K, Scholz B, Nilsson A, Andrén PE, Fex  Svenningsen A, Dencker L, Stigson M. Neurotoxicology. 2008 Jul;29(4):628-37.

Microfluidic high viability neural cell separation using viscoelastically tuned hydrodynamic spreading. Wu Z, Hjort K, Wicher G, Fex Svenningsen A. Biomed Microdevices. 2008 Oct;10(5):631-8.


Last Updated 16.03.2017