Swammerdam – Alexej Verkhratski


SWAMMERDAM LECTURE - Thursday April 18th 2024 at 16:00

Prof. dr. Alexei Verhratsky

Pathophysiology of astroglia


Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience; Leioa, Spain

Date / timeThursday, April 18th, 2024 at 16:00
Hostprof. dr. Eleonora Aronica

Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Colloquium Room, Meibergdreef 47 Amsterdam

The lecture is followed by a reception.

Astroglia are a broad class of neural parenchymal cells primarily dedicated to homeostasis and defence of the central nervous system (CNS). Astroglia contribute to the pathophysiology of all neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental to disorder outcome. Pathophysiological changes in astroglia can be primary or secondary and can result in gain or loss of functions. Astroglia respond to external, non-cell autonomous signals associated with any form of CNS pathology by undergoing complex and variable changes in their structure, molecular expression, and function. In addition, internally driven, cell autonomous changes of astroglial innate properties can lead to CNS pathologies. Astroglial pathophysiology is complex, with different pathophysiological cell states and cell phenotypes that are context-specific and vary with disorder, disorder-stage, comorbidities, age, and sex. Astroglial pathophysiology is classified into (i) reactive astrogliosis, (ii) astroglial atrophy with loss of function, (iii) astroglial degeneration and death, and (iv) astrocytopathies characterised by aberrant forms that drive disease. Characterising cellular and molecular mechanisms of astroglial pathophysiology represents a new frontier to identify novel therapeutic strategies.


Preceding the Swammerdam Lecture on April 18, 2024 of Prof. Alexei Verkhratsky (Science Park of the UPV/EHU Sede Building, Leioa Spain) at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) will chair a Masterclass from 13:00-16:00. A selected group of PhD students with an interest in the field of Pathophysiology of Astroglia will have the opportunity to present their work and discuss their results and ideas with Alexei Verkhratsky.

PhD students from the Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam Rotterdam (ONWAR) are encouraged to submit an abstract to prof. dr. Eleonora Aronica (e.aronica@amsterdamumc.nl) from 19 February til 20 March. The selected students will be invited to have lunch with Prof. Verkhratsky preceding the Masterclass.

Biographical note

Professor Alexei Verkhratsky, PhD, D.Sc, Member of Academia Europaea (2003), Vice-President of Academia Europea (2016), Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (2013), Member of Real Academia Nacional de Farmacia of Spain (2012), Member of Polish Academy of Sciences (2017), Corresponding Member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (2019); member of Polska Akademia Umiejętności (2021); Member of The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (2012), Honorary Professor and Chair, Chairman of the Academic Committee of the Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province for Acupuncture & Chronobiology at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (2018), Distinguished professor of Jinan University at Guangzhou (2018); Honorary professor of China Medical University at Shenyang (2019). Alexei was born in 1961 in Stanislaw, Galicia, Western Ukraine; he graduated from Kiev Medical Institute in 1983, and received PhD (1986) and D.Sc. (1993) in Physiology from Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology also in Kiev. In the period between 1989 and 1995 he was visitor scientist in Heidelberg and Gottingen, and between 1995 and 1999 he was a Research Scientist at Max Delbrück Centre of Molecular Medicine in Berlin. He joined the Division of Neuroscience, School of Biological Sciences in Manchester in September 1999, became a Professor of Neurophysiology in 2002 and served as Head of the said Division from 2002 to 2004. From 2007 to 2010 he was appointed as a visitor professor/Head of Department of Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of Check Republic. Alexei also serves as a Research Professor of the Ikerbasque (Basque Research Council) in Bilbao, where, from 2012, he acted as Adjunct Scientific Director of the Achucarro Basque Centre for Neuroscience; from 2011 to 2017 he was as a Honorary Visitor Professor at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan. Alexei is the editor-in-chief of Cell Calcium, Deputy editor of Cell Death and Disease, Receiving editor of Acta Physilogica, and member of editorial boards of many journals including Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, Pflugers Archiv, Purinergic Signalling, Advances in Neurobiology &c.

In 2007 he, together with Arthur Butt published the first ever Textbook on Glial Neurobiology, and in 2013 he, again in co-authorship with Arthur Butt published a handbook Glial Physiology and Pathophysiology, which has rapidly become the reference book in the field. The completely new edition of glia text/reference book Neuroglia: Function and Pathology was published by Elsevier on May 23, 2023. Also in April 2023 the first glial textbook in Chinese 神经胶质细胞, was published by The People’s Medical Publishing House, Beijing.

Alexei Verkhratsky is an internationally recognised scholar in the field of cellular neurophysiology, best known for his contributions to our knowledge of the physiology and pathophysiology of neuroglia. He was one of the first to discover the specific expression of neurotransmitter receptors in astrocytes and their activation in situ by physiological stimulation. He demonstrated (with H. Kettenmann) matching patterns of neuronal and glial receptors, thus providing the basis for the concept of active and reciprocal neuronal-glial communications. He demonstrated that these receptors are connected to calcium-mediated signalling cascades, which led to the important concept of glial calcium excitability. Subsequently he developed the concept of sodium ions as a specific signalling molecule controlling local homeostatic responses of astrocytes. These discoveries have made a major contribution to the development of a new doctrine of the fundamental role of neuroglia in brain function. Verkhratsky also pioneered the emerging field of neurogliopathology, having characterised astroglial asthenia and paralysis as key pathogenetic steps in age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases. In a series of highly cited conceptual papers he outlined basic principles of glial physiology and pathophysiology, which significantly influenced this rapidly developing area of neuroscience.

Scientometry: Prof Verkhratsky authored 9 and edited 10 books; he published ~ 600 papers and chapters. His papers were cited ~42000 times, H-index 104 (Scopus, 2024).He is Highly cited Wos (Clarivite) researcher 2022, 2023Web pages:

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