Diaz Heijtz Laboratory

Associate Professor

Rochellys Diaz Heijtz

Phone: 08-524 878 86
E-mail: Rochellys.Heijtz@ki.se

Research focus

Our research interests are centered on understanding the biological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders, with a focus on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We use different animal model systems to understand the contribution of genetic factors, impact of early adverse life experience (e.g., stress, infections), and gene-environment interactions on the development of motor, affective and cognitive functions, which are impaired in ADHD and ASD. We are also interested in exploring the potential clinical utility of cognitive enhancers in combination with motor/cognitive training for the treatment of these disorders.

Our work is performed in collaboration with clinicians and psychologists at the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital and Karolinska Institutet Center of Neurodevelopmental
Disorders (KIND). This optimizes the opportunities for iterative translation from basic to clinical research and back to more fundamental mechanistic studies.

Key subjects of interest:

  1. Impact of normal gut microbiota on brain development and behavior.
  2. Clinical studies of young children at high risk for developing ASD, with special focus on the potential role of the gut microbiota.
  3. Molecular and epigenetic mechanisms underlying motor/cognitive training-induced plasticity and modulation by cognitive enhancers.

Selected publications

Host microbiota modulates development of social preference in mice.
Arentsen T, Raith H, Qian Y, Forssberg H, Diaz Heijtz R
Microb. Ecol. Health Dis. 2015 ;26():29719

Motor Skill Learning Is Associated with Phase-Dependent Modifications in the Striatal cAMP/PKA/DARPP-32 Signaling Pathway in Rodents.
Qian Y, Forssberg H, Diaz Heijtz R
PLoS ONE 2015 ;10(10):e0140974

Genetic variation in dopamine-related gene expression influences motor skill learning in mice.
Qian Y, Chen M, Forssberg H, Diaz Heijtz R
Genes Brain Behav. 2013 Aug;12(6):604-14

Cognitive outcome in adolescents and young adults after repeat courses of antenatal corticosteroids.
Stålnacke J, Diaz Heijtz R, Norberg H, Norman M, Smedler A, Forssberg H
J. Pediatr. 2013 Aug;163(2):441-6

Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior.
Diaz Heijtz R, Wang S, Anuar F, Qian Y, Björkholm B, Samuelsson A, et al
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2011 Feb;108(7):3047-52

Group members

Tim Arentsen - PhD student

Rochellys Diaz Heijtz - Senior researcher

Adamantia Fragkopoulou - Postdoc

Ting Wang - Postdoc

Qian Yu - Senior lab manager