In our daily lives, we are regularly exposed to stressful and emotionally arousing events. While most people can adapt well to such events, some individuals are at risk for developing stress-related disorders, like major depression, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress-disorder.
Coping with stressful events requires appropriate cognitive processing in order to promote behavioural adaptation. The overarching goal of our lab is to understand how individuals adapt to stressful and emotionally arousing events and how resilience and vulnerability to develop stress-related disorders is determined.
Our research can roughly be divided into three themes:
To address these questions, the Krugers lab exploits and combines animal behavior with electrophysiology, biochemical tools, pharmacology, molecular tools and cellular imaging. More recently, the lab also performs translational studies on fear and fear generalization in humans and healthy aging in humans.
Harm Krugers is Associate Professor at SILS. He is Program Director of the Research Master Brain and Cognitive Sciences, board member of Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC); Board member of the Society for Interdisciplinary Behavioural Research (SIGO) and member of the executive board of FENS.
Dr Erica Beretta
Niek Brosens, MSc
Jeniffer Sanguino Gómez, MSc. (guest)
Dr Judith ter Horst
Felisa van Hasselt
Early life is a sensitive period of development. When this period is disturbed by exposure to childhood adversity, it can have a lasting impact on the adult we become, on mental and physical health, increasing the vulnerability to develop a large range of disorders (e.g. depression, cognitive decline and obesity). Because prevention of early-life stress is often difficult, a better understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the early programming of the brain, behavior and body is needed.
We study the effects of early-life stress in the context of wild type, but also Alzheimer mouse models. We have recently found that exposure to early-life stress is associated with impaired learning and memory, altered neuroimmune system, altered responses to amyloid and altered fat and leptin system.
Importantly, we have recently identified early nutritional interventions with essential PUFAs or with methyl donor micronutrients, that were able to protect against some of the detrimental effects of early-life stress exposure. The exact mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of such diet, and whether this could be considered also in the context of Alzheimer’s disease, are among our current research interests.
The main goal of our research group is to better understand the biological mechanisms and environmental factors involved in brain programming by stressful early-life experiences and to test the efficacy of nutritional interventions. We focus on essential nutrients and early dietary interventions in particular. The translational value of this approach is high as nutrition is typically non-invasive, cheap and easily applicable.
We aim to identify how the various components of the early-life environment, including stress-hormones, early nutrition and inflammatory modulators act synergistically in programming the brain and body.
We study these aspects across species, in mice, humans and fish.
We use wild type as well as transgenic mice (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease mouse model) and an established mouse model of early-life stress. We study if and how early-life stress-induces alterations in brain structure and function and metabolic characteristics under a basal state or after various challenges (e.g. immune challenge, or metabolic challenges) and study in detail the involvement of various cell types of the brain (neurons, astrocytes, microglia), in vivo and in vitro. Within the brain, our main focuses are on the hippocampus and hypothalamus, very plastic brain regions involved in learning and memory, in stress regulation and energy homeostasis, and focus on various forms of brain plasticity, related to hippocampal neurogenesis, microglia and astrocytes.
- We have set up the Amsterdam mother milk cohort (AMS) to study the effects of stress on the composition of human breastmilk, in collaboration with Prof Hans van Goudoever (AUMC).
- We work in collaboration with AUMC (Dr. S. de Rooij) on the Dutch Famine birth cohort and ABCD cohorts to understand the biological characteristics (lipid and immune profile) of blood, aimed at understanding mechanisms and possibly identifying biomarkers of early stress exposure.
Work in collaboration with WUR (Dr. B. Pollux) on novel placental fish species to study the evolution of maternal effects on the offspring.
If you are interested in more details, my personal website is: https://akorosi.wixsite.com/korosigroup
Aniko Korosi is Associate Professor at SILS. She is coordinator of the Neuroscience master track (PPP, Psychopathophysiology) of the Research Master biomedical Sciences, treasurer and member of the executive board of the European brain and behavior society (EBBS), member of the executive board of the Dutch Neuroscience meeting (DNM) and chair of DNM2020/2021. Member of the ECNP nutrition network, Aniko Korosi is member of the editorial board of several recognized journals, including eNeuro and Frontiers in Neuroenergenetics, Nutrition and Brain health, and she regularly acts as evaluation and advisory board member for several national and international grant agencies and research councils.
Dr. Veronica Begni (Italy)-postdoc
Simone de Luca (Australia)
Dr Eva Naninck
Dr Livia Clemente
Dr Claudia Sestito (collaborative postdoc with Dr. Vivi Heine, Free University, Amsterdam)
Brain insults that involve the hippocampus, like epilepsy, stroke, neuroinflammation, chronic stress and traumatic brain injury, are commonly associated with cognitive impairment and mood disorders, and contribute to the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. These insults can affect several forms of structural plasticity in the brain, affecting specific cellular populations, modifying the communication between neurons and thereby affect important neuronal circuits, which compromises hippocampal network function and hampers hippocampus-dependent behavior.
The focus of the Fitzsimons lab is to identify common mechanisms by which brain insults affect cognition. For this, we focus on a group of insults that modify the proliferation and function of neural stem cells, resulting in the presence of abnormal neurons, circuits, and cellular alterations associated with neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment.
Detailed information about our past and ongoing activities, experimental approaches used in the lab and scientific expertise can be found at our lab’s website: https://www.fitzsimonslab.eu/
Current international collaborations include:
Carlos Fitzsimons is member of the editorial board of several recognized journals, including Scientific Reports, Frontiers in Neuroscience, Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience and Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience and he regularly acts as evaluation and advisory board member for several European and international research councils.
Dr Oihane Abiega Etxabe (guest)
Dr Marijn Schouten
Dr Pascal Bielefeld