Mats Lekander's research group

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In the research area psychoneuroimmunology, Mats Lekanders group studies the importance of behaviour in the interplay between the brain, the endocrine and the immune system. Within this framework, Mats Lekanders group study how stress and sleep influences the immune system, and how the immune system in turn influences brain function, subjective (self-rated) health, pain sensitivity and social interactions. The research is conducted in close collaboration between the Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet. The interdisciplinary framework is also used as a stepping stone for intervention research, for example psychological treatment for disturbed sleep or chronic pain, and placebo and acupuncture for nausea.

Research projects

The work is conducted within a marked interdisciplinary network with competence in psychology, endocrinology, physiology, allergology and cognitive neuroscience. Several studies are conducted in the interface between psychology and biomedicine, for example in studies on stress and sleep in relation to immune regulation. Also, we study the effects of inflammation, both acute experimental and chronic allergic, on brain function, measured with methods such as fMRI and PET.

Several studies concern biological and psychological determinants for subjective health. These studies are performed both with experimental methods - such as causing a short-lived harmless inflammatory reaction which entails a transient feeling of sickness and through longitudinal observational studies in different population.

The knowledge about common illness symptoms, such as pain, poor subjective health or tiredness, is a point of departure also for our treatment research. Here, cognitive behavioural therapy (also given in self-help form) for insomnia and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) for chronic pain. Other treatment projects are under development.

Selected publications

Pro-inflammatory cytokines are elevated in adolescent females with emotional disorders not treated with SSRIs.
Henje Blom E, Lekander M, Ingvar M, Åsberg M, Mobarrez F, Serlachius E
J Affect Disord 2012 Feb;136(3):716-23

Inflammation and positive affect are associated with subjective health in women of the general population.
Andreasson A, Szulkin R, Undén A, von Essen J, Nilsson L, Lekander M
J Health Psychol 2013 Mar;18(3):311-20

Efficacy of a behavioral self-help treatment with or without therapist guidance for co-morbid and primary insomnia--a randomized controlled trial.
Jernelöv S, Lekander M, Blom K, Rydh S, Ljótsson B, Axelsson J, et al
BMC Psychiatry 2012 Jan;12():5

Allergy influences the inflammatory status of the brain and enhances tau-phosphorylation.
Sarlus H, Höglund C, Karshikoff B, Wang X, Lekander M, Schultzberg M, et al
J. Cell. Mol. Med. 2012 Oct;16(10):2401-12

Predicting sleep quality from stress and prior sleep--a study of day-to-day covariation across six weeks.
Åkerstedt T, Orsini N, Petersen H, Axelsson J, Lekander M, Kecklund G
Sleep Med. 2012 Jun;13(6):674-9

Group members

Maria AhlsénAssociated
Richard BränströmSenior researcher
Jimmy HermanssonAssociated
Bianka KarshikoffPostdoc
Julie LasselinAssociated
Mats LekanderResearch team leader, Professor
Catarina LensmarAssociated
Gustav NilsonneCoordinator
Manfred SchedlowskiAssociated
Sandra TammAssociated
Arjan Van Der StarPhD student, Graduate Student
Joseph WexlerAssociated
Lie ÅslundGraduate Student