Simon Cervenka's research group

PET image showing brain distribution of the glial cell marker Translocator Protein (TSPO), as measured using [11C]PBR28
PET image showing brain distribution of the glial cell marker Translocator Protein (TSPO), as measured using [11C]PBR28

Molecular brain imaging and psychosis research

The main objective of my research group is to understand the biology of psychosis, to enable new diagnostic tools and treatment approaches. A key methodological platform is positron emission tomography (PET), which enables quantification of biochemical markers in brain in vivo. Using this methodology, we map markers of glial cell activation and brain neurotransmission in patients with early stage schizophrenia, focusing on first episode psychosis.

The clinical basis for the research is a collaboration between five different psychiatric clinics in Stockholm: Psykiatri Nordväst, Norra Stockholms Psykiatri, PRIMA Vuxenpsykiatri, Psykiatri Stockholm Södra Stockholms Psykiatri and Praktikertjänst, as well as several research groups at KI, working together to enroll drug naïve first episode psychosis patients. The project is carried out within the Centre for Psychiatry Research, and I am the principal investigator for the clinical data collection. All patients undergo a detailed clinical evaluation including cognitive testing, and investigations include PET, blood tests, lumbar punction as well as structural and functional MR examinations.

The group has participated in collaborative studies assessing immune activation in disorders with peripheral immune aberrations, as well as studies aiming to map the biological basis of personality and cognitive function in the normal brain. Ongoing PET projects also include evaluating new immune markers in animal models of psychosis.

Methodological work in the group includes evaluating and implementing new methods for PET data quantification to increase precision and sensitivity, as well as applying new statistical approaches to improve robustness of inferences. One overarching goal is to strive for increased replicability of our results. We have also coordinated several collaborative projects involving pooling data across research centres to increase statistical power.

Several members of the group are also centrally involved in evaluation and implementation of clinical tools such as CBT in psychosis and self-guided referral.

The research in Simon Cervenka’s group is supported by Vetenskapsrådet, Region Stockholm (ALF-medel) and Hjärnfonden.

Group members

Simon Cervenka

Research group leader

Henrik Gregenmark

Affiliated to research

Granville Matheson

Postdoctoral researcher

Maria Lee

Lena Flyckt

Affiliated to research

Maria Mattsson

Affiliated to research

Pontus Plavén Sigray

Affiliated to research


Recent publications (2018-)

Reliability of dopamine transporter PET measurements with [18F]FE-PE2I in patients with Parkinson's disease.
Kerstens VS, Fazio P, Sundgren M, Matheson GJ, Franzén E, Halldin C, et al
EJNMMI Res 2020 Aug;10(1):95

The genetic architecture of human brainstem structures and their involvement in common brain disorders.
Elvsåshagen T, Bahrami S, van der Meer D, Agartz I, Alnæs D, Barch DM, et al
Nat Commun 2020 08;11(1):4016

Non-displaceable binding is a potential confounding factor in 11CPBR28 TSPO PET studies.
Laurell GL, Plavén-Sigray P, Jucaite A, Varrone A, Cosgrove KP, Svarer C, et al
J. Nucl. Med. 2020 Jul;():

Meta-analysis of the Glial Marker TSPO in Psychosis Revisited: Reconciling Inconclusive Findings of Patient-Control Differences.
Plavén-Sigray P, Matheson GJ, Coughlin JM, Hafizi S, Laurikainen H, Ottoy J, et al
Biol. Psychiatry 2020 Jul;():

Kinfitr - an open-source tool for reproducible PET modelling: validation and evaluation of test-retest reliability.
Tjerkaski J, Cervenka S, Farde L, Matheson GJ
EJNMMI Res 2020 Jul;10(1):77

Dopamine D1 receptor availability is not associated with delusional ideation measures of psychosis proneness.
Matheson GJ, Plavén-Sigray P, Louzolo A, Borg J, Farde L, Petrovic P, et al
Schizophr. Res. 2020 Jun;():

CSF levels of synaptosomal-associated protein 25 and synaptotagmin-1 in first-episode psychosis subjects.
Xu C, Sellgren CM, Fatouros-Bergman H, Piehl F, Blennow K, Zetterberg H, et al
IBRO Rep 2020 Jun;8():136-142

Synthesis and Preclinical Evaluation of 6-[18F]Fluorine-α-methyl-l-tryptophan, a Novel PET Tracer for Measuring Tryptophan Uptake.
Krasikova R, Kondrashov M, Avagliano C, Petukhov M, Vazquez-Romero A, Revunov E, et al
ACS Chem Neurosci 2020 Jun;11(12):1756-1761

In response to the letter "[11C]raclopride and extrastriatal binding to D2/3 receptors".
Svensson JE, Schain M, Plavén-Sigray P, Cervenka S, Tiger M, Nord M, et al
Neuroimage 2020 02;207():116371

Clinical brain PET research must embrace multi-centre collaboration and data sharing or risk its demise.
Matheson GJ, Plavén-Sigray P, Tuisku J, Rinne J, Matuskey D, Cervenka S
Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging 2020 02;47(2):502-504

Validity and reliability of extrastriatal [11C]raclopride binding quantification in the living human brain.
Svensson JE, Schain M, Plavén-Sigray P, Cervenka S, Tiger M, Nord M, et al
Neuroimage 2019 Aug;202():116143

Effects of age, BMI and sex on the glial cell marker TSPO - a multicentre [11C]PBR28 HRRT PET study.
Tuisku J, Plavén-Sigray P, Gaiser EC, Airas L, Al-Abdulrasul H, Brück A, et al
Eur. J. Nucl. Med. Mol. Imaging 2019 Oct;46(11):2329-2338

Common brain disorders are associated with heritable patterns of apparent aging of the brain.
Kaufmann T, van der Meer D, Doan NT, Schwarz E, Lund MJ, Agartz I, et al
Nat. Neurosci. 2019 Oct;22(10):1617-1623

Disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis is inversely related to cerebral TSPO binding assessed by [11C]PBR28 positron emission tomography.
Forsberg A, Lampa J, Estelius J, Cervenka S, Farde L, Halldin C, et al
J. Neuroimmunol. 2019 Sep;334():577000

D1-Dopamine Receptor Availability in First-Episode Neuroleptic Naive Psychosis Patients.
Stenkrona P, Matheson GJ, Halldin C, Cervenka S, Farde L
Int. J. Neuropsychopharmacol. 2019 Jul;22(7):415-425

Brain Heterogeneity in Schizophrenia and Its Association With Polygenic Risk.
Alnæs D, Kaufmann T, van der Meer D, Córdova-Palomera A, Rokicki J, Moberget T, et al
JAMA Psychiatry 2019 Jul;76(7):739-748

Neurogranin as a potential synaptic marker in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with a first episode psychosis.
Santillo AF, Lundgren S, Xu C, Orhan F, Fatouros-Bergman H, Blennow K, et al
Schizophr. Res. 2019 Jun;208():490-492

Increased peripheral levels of TARC/CCL17 in first episode psychosis patients.
Malmqvist A, Schwieler L, Orhan F, Fatouros-Bergman H, Bauer M, Flyckt L, et al
Schizophr. Res. 2019 Aug;210():221-227

Meta-analytic studies of the glial cell marker TSPO in psychosis - a question of apples and pears?
Plavén-Sigray P, Cervenka S
Psychol Med 2019 Jul;49(10):1624-1628

Accuracy and reliability of [11C]PBR28 specific binding estimated without the use of a reference region.
Plavén-Sigray P, Schain M, Zanderigo F, , Rabiner EA, Gunn RN, et al
Neuroimage 2019 03;188():102-110

Reproducible grey matter patterns index a multivariate, global alteration of brain structure in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Schwarz E, Doan NT, Pergola G, Westlye LT, Kaufmann T, Wolfers T, et al
Transl Psychiatry 2019 01;9(1):12

PET radioligands for the dopamine D1-receptor: Application in psychiatric disorders.
Cervenka S
Neurosci. Lett. 2019 01;691():26-34

Brain glial activation in fibromyalgia - A multi-site positron emission tomography investigation.
Albrecht DS, Forsberg A, Sandström A, Bergan C, Kadetoff D, Protsenko E, et al
Brain Behav. Immun. 2019 01;75():72-83

Trait impulsivity is not related to post-commissural putamen volumes: A replication study in healthy men.
Caravaggio F, Plavén-Sigray P, Matheson GJ, Plitman E, Chakravarty MM, Borg J, et al
PLoS ONE 2018 ;13(12):e0209584

Test-retest reliability and convergent validity of (R)-[11C]PK11195 outcome measures without arterial input function.
Plavén-Sigray P, Matheson GJ, Cselényi Z, Jucaite A, Farde L, Cervenka S
EJNMMI Res 2018 Nov;8(1):102

Serotonin 5-HT1A receptor binding and self-transcendence in healthy control subjects-a replication study using Bayesian hypothesis testing.
Griffioen G, Matheson GJ, Cervenka S, Farde L, Borg J
PeerJ 2018 ;6():e5790

In vivo coupling of tau pathology and cortical thinning in Alzheimer's disease.
Mak E, Bethlehem RAI, Romero-Garcia R, Cervenka S, Rittman T, Gabel S, et al
Alzheimers Dement (Amst) 2018 ;10():678-687

Immune sculpting of the psychotic brain? In vivo associations between a glial cell marker and hippocampal morphology.
Cervenka S
Brain Behav. Immun. 2018 11;74():43-44

Increased number of monocytes and plasma levels of MCP-1 and YKL-40 in first-episode psychosis.
Orhan F, Schwieler L, Fatouros-Bergman H, Malmqvist A, Cervenka S, Collste K, et al
Acta Psychiatr Scand 2018 11;138(5):432-440

[11C]SCH23390 binding to the D1-dopamine receptor in the human brain-a comparison of manual and automated methods for image analysis.
Stenkrona P, Matheson GJ, Cervenka S, Sigray PP, Halldin C, Farde L
EJNMMI Res 2018 Aug;8(1):74

Cerebrospinal fluid levels of sphingolipids associate with disease severity in first episode psychosis patients.
Checa A, Malmqvist A, Flyckt L, Schwieler L, Samuelsson M, Skogh E, et al
Schizophr. Res. 2018 09;199():438-441

Positron Emission Tomography Studies of the Glial Cell Marker Translocator Protein in Patients With Psychosis: A Meta-analysis Using Individual Participant Data.
Plavén-Sigray P, Matheson GJ, Collste K, Ashok AH, Coughlin JM, Howes OD, et al
Biol. Psychiatry 2018 09;84(6):433-442

Cortical Brain Abnormalities in 4474 Individuals With Schizophrenia and 5098 Control Subjects via the Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics Through Meta Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium.
van Erp TGM, Walton E, Hibar DP, Schmaal L, Jiang W, Glahn DC, et al
Biol. Psychiatry 2018 11;84(9):644-654

CSF GABA is reduced in first-episode psychosis and associates to symptom severity.
Orhan F, Fatouros-Bergman H, Goiny M, Malmqvist A, Piehl F, , et al
Mol. Psychiatry 2018 05;23(5):1244-1250

Brain neuroreceptor density and personality traits: towards dimensional biomarkers for psychiatric disorders.
Farde L, Plavén-Sigray P, Borg J, Cervenka S
Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 2018 04;373(1744):

Is dopamine D1 receptor availability related to social behavior? A positron emission tomography replication study.
Plavén-Sigray P, Matheson GJ, Gustavsson P, Stenkrona P, Halldin C, Farde L, et al
PLoS ONE 2018 ;13(3):e0193770

Evidence of fatigue, disordered sleep and peripheral inflammation, but not increased brain TSPO expression, in seasonal allergy: A [11C]PBR28 PET study.
Tamm S, Cervenka S, Forsberg A, Estelius J, Grunewald J, Gyllfors P, et al
Brain Behav. Immun. 2018 02;68():146-157

First-episode psychosis patients display increased plasma IL-18 that correlates with cognitive dysfunction.
Orhan F, Fatouros-Bergman H, Schwieler L, Cervenka S, Flyckt L, Sellgren CM, et al
Schizophr. Res. 2018 05;195():406-408

For full publication list for Simon Cervenka, please see: