Personlig profil


Neuron-glia interaction in health and disease is our overarching research focus. How cells communicate, and how this communication changes in neurodegenerative diseases are key factors in combatting such diseases, for example Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which is one of our current main interests. Biomarkers—endogenous proteins, that can be used to predict both the onset and worsening of injury, disease, or reactions to medications—are essential to acquire more and better understanding of disease mechanisms, as well as the function of the healthy nervous system. But not only do biomarkers help us better understand the nervous system; they can also be used in the clinic for better and earlier diagnoses.

Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) and High-Temperature Requirement protein A1 (HTRA1) are two such biomarkers. The two proteins are binding partners, where MIF inhibits the enzymatic activity of HTRA1 by binding to it. We are currently studying both proteins as biomarkers for MS, particularly the early phases of the disease, but we are also studying the mechanisms behind their changes.


For unknown reasons, HTRA1 had never been studied in MS when we started our experiments. HTRA1 had been connected to other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral autosomal recessive arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CARASIL), and autoimmune diseases as rheumatoid arthritis. We quickly realized that HTRA1 plays a significant role in MS, too.

Our results so far have shown that HTRA1 is an excellent biomarker for the initial diagnosis of disease. HTRA1 also increases with disease severity in patients. The HTRA1 concentration decreases when patients receive immunosuppressive medication, suggesting that HTRA1 is connected to the immune system, and at the moment, we are analyzing HTRA1’s role in the immune system in MS patients. Preliminary data suggest that high levels of HTRA1 increases neurodegeneration and is harmful to the brain.


MIF had been investigated in MS before we started studying it, but the results have been varying and inconsistent. Using combinations of cutting-edge analytical techniques, we could demonstrate that MIF decreases in RRMS, but then increases with disease severity, so that it is high in patients with SPMS. MIF is also a good biomarker for MS, but more as a prognostic marker for disease progression from RRMS to SPMS. Whether the patient is a man or a woman also affects the concentration of MIF. Surprisingly, MIF is not affected by immunosuppressive medication.

The combined data shows that MIF and HTRA1 interact in complex, but crucial processes related to MS. We hope that our research may lead to better diagnoses, better treatment, and ultimately better lives for MS patients.

If you want to know more about our research, feel free to contact me.


1. Timeline

2009-present: Associate professor, Neurobiology Unit at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Odense, Denmark.

2008: Docent (Swedish academic title equivalent to a Danish Dr.Phil.) from Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

2003–2008: Assistant professor, Swedish Research Council, first at the Dept. of Physiology, Lund University, then at the Dept. of Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University (2004-2005), and the Dept. of Neuroscience, Uppsala University (2005-2008).

1999-2003: Post-doctoral fellow, Mt Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA. Mentor: Professor David Colman.

1999: Filosofie Doktor (svensk Ph.d.) Dept of Animal Physiology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

1993-1995: Parental leave (1,5 years)


2. Commissions of trust

2022: Member of the scientific board of Neuroscience Academy of Denmark (NAD) 

2021- present: Member of the the study board of the Pharmacy Education at SDU

2017- present: Secretary of the DSfN board (Dansk Society of Neuroscience)

2021- present: Vice study director of biomedicine and course leader of 2 courses in neurobiology for biomedicine and pharmacy, SDU

2012-2020: Vice Chairman of the institute council for IMM, SDU.

2012 - present: Member of the committee for special admittance through tests (Kvote 2) at the Medical faculty at SDU.

2013 - present: Leader of two courses in Neurobiology; one on Bachelor level (Pharmacy) and one at master level ( Biomedicine), SDU.


3. Peer Review

2017: Head of employment committee for associate professorship in Anatomy at

2017: Member of employment committee for new dean at the medical faculty at SDU.

2007-2016: Reviewer of research grants for : Stiftelsen för Strategisk Forskning (SSF, Sweden) 2010-2015; Forska utan djurförsök (Sweden) 2007-2016, The German Research Foundation (DFG) 2012 and 2016, Medical Research Council UK 2015 and 2017.

2013-2015: Evaluator of biomedical education on bachelor and master levels at all universities in Sweden, for Universitetskanslerämbetet (UKÄ), a Swedish governmental agency that secures and reviews university educations in Sweden.

2008-present: Member of 30 PhD committees in Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Turkey

2018-present: Opponent of three PhD theses, two at Stockholm University, Sweden, one at Lund University, Sweden.

2005 - present: Reviewer in 18 international journals in the field of neurobiology, neurology and

2006-2007: Member of the interdisciplinary panel of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF. The panel was put together to lay out a new strategy for SSF's funding of proposals in translational research (now implemented).


4. Scientific focus:

2009- present:   IMM, SDU: Identified MIF and HTRA1, as possible biomarkers in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and is currently investigating their function in the disease. 

2003-2009: Uppsala University, Sverige: Neuron- glia communication in health and diseases, as for example in MS.

1999-2003: Mt Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA: Developed new in vitro techniques for mimicking CNS and PNS injury in a dish, with focus on myelination.

1993-1999: Lunds University, Sverige: Studied regeneration in the PNS particularly in relation to insulin and insulin-like growth factors.


5. International relations:


  • Professor Luca Colucci: University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Caserta


  • Professor Stina Oredsson Lund University, Lund
  • Professor Lars Dahlin: Lund University. Malmö
  • Associate Professor Maria Norlin, Uppsala University, Uppsala
  • Professor Helgi Schiøth, Uppsala University, Uppsala
  • Professor Anna Forsby, Stockholm University, Stockholm


  • Professor Esra Battaloglu, Bogazici University, Istanbul
  •  R&D manager Duygu Daglikoca PhD, ILKOGEN,Biotechnology, Istanbul


  • Professor R Douglas Fields, National Institute of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland
  • Professor Jeff Huang, Georgetown University, Washington DC


  • Director Kirsten Arndt, Boehringer- Ingelheim, Ulm, Baden-Württemberg


  • Professor James St John, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland
  • Associate professor Jenny Ekberg, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland




Primary cell culture (rat and mouse):

  1. Fetal dissociated CNS: cerebellum, cortex, spinal cord.
  2. Fetal and adult dissocated PNS: dorsal root ganglia fetal and 
  3. Fetal and adult dissociated ENS: myenteric nervous system
  4. Cultures of single cell species (rat and mouse): Schwann cells-precursors-adult Schwann cells, oligodendrocytes astrocytes neurons (PNS and CNS).
  5. Stem cells: cortex (mouse) , neural crest stem cells (mouse), cell lines (human).

Functional and pharmacological investigations of primary cultures:

  1. Proliferation
  2. Apoptosis
  3. Migration
  4. Differentiation: synapseformation, axonal length, sprouting, myelination.
  5. Stem cell differentiation assays.

Molecular Techniques

  • Immunochemistry
  • In situ hybridization
  • Protein analysis, purification, ELISA and western blot
  • Normal light and fluorescent microscopy
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Use of Image express
  • RT-PCR


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne, hvor Åsa Fex Svenningsen er aktiv. Disse emneordskoncepter kommer fra denne persons arbejde. Sammen danner de et unikt fingerprint.
  • 1 Lignende profiler

Samarbejde og topforskningsområder i de sidste fem år

Seneste eksterne samarbejder på lande-/områdeniveau. Dyk ned i detaljerne ved at klikke på prikkerne eller