Simon Cervenka's research group

Molecular brain imaging and psychosis research

PET-bildThe main objective of the 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, brain neurotransmission and synaptic density in patients with early stage schizophrenia. Ongoing PET projects also include evaluating new immune markers in animal models of psychosis, in collaboration with preclinical research groups.

The main clinical basis of the projects is Karolinska Schizophrenia Project (KaSP), which is a collaboration between four different psychiatric clinics in Stockholm: Psykiatri Nordväst, Norra Stockholms Psykiatri, PRIMA Vuxenpsykiatri and Södra Stockholms Psykiatri, as well as several research groups at KI from the department of clinical neuroscience and the department of physiology and pharmacology. Simon Cervenka is the principal investigator for the clinical data collection in KaSP. All patients perform clinical characterisation including cognitive testing, and investigations include lumbar punction as well as structural and functional MR examinations, and blood is sampled for proteomics, transcriptomics and genetic analyses.

The group is also involved 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.

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. This work is performed in close collaboration with other research group within the PET centre at KI. We are also part of collaborative work for pooling data with other centres to increase statistical power.

The research in Simon Cervenkas group is supported by Vetenskapsrådet, Stockholms Läns Landsting (ALF-medel), Hjärnfonden, KI (KID-medel), stiftelsen Söderström-Königska sjukhemmet.

Selected publications

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 G, Collste K, Ashok A, Coughlin J, Howes O, et al
Biol. Psychiatry 2018 Sep;84(6):433-442

PET radioligands for the dopamine D1-receptor: Application in psychiatric disorders.
Cervenka S
Neurosci. Lett. 2018 Mar;():

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 Apr;373(1744):

Evidence of fatigue, disordered sleep and peripheral inflammation, but not increased brain TSPO expression, in seasonal allergy: A [C]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 C, et al
Schizophr. Res. 2018 05;195():406-408

Assessment of simplified ratio-based approaches for quantification of PET [C]PBR28 data.
Matheson G, Plavén-Sigray P, Forsberg A, Varrone A, Farde L, Cervenka S
EJNMMI Res 2017 Dec;7(1):58

Reliability of volumetric and surface-based normalisation and smoothing techniques for PET analysis of the cortex: A test-retest analysis using [C]SCH-23390.
Matheson G, Stenkrona P, Cselényi Z, Plavén-Sigray P, Halldin C, Farde L, et al
Neuroimage 2017 07;155():344-353

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 May;23(5):1244-1250

The immune response of the human brain to abdominal surgery.
Forsberg A, Cervenka S, Jonsson Fagerlund M, Rasmussen L, Zetterberg H, Erlandsson Harris H, et al
Ann. Neurol. 2017 Apr;81(4):572-582

Lower levels of the glial cell marker TSPO in drug-naive first-episode psychosis patients as measured using PET and [C]PBR28.
Collste K, Plavén-Sigray P, Fatouros-Bergman H, Victorsson P, Schain M, Forsberg A, et al
Mol. Psychiatry 2017 06;22(6):850-856


Group members

Simon CervenkaResearch team leader, Lecturer/senior physician
Karin CollsteAssociated
Nina Erixon-LindrothAssociated
Henrik GregemarkAssociated
Maria LeeAssociated
Granville MathesonPhD student
Pontus Plaven SigrayPhD student
Alexander SantilloAssociated