Jakob Theorell team - Autoimmune neurology

The focus of the team is translational research in the area of autoimmune neurology, with a special focus on autoimmune encephalitis. Our projects range from efforts to identify clinical traits overrepresented in patients with these rare conditions, via improvements in diagnostic testing to immunocellular investigations aiming at elucidation of disease mechanisms.

The autoimmune neurology team is part of the Jenny Mjösberg research group at the Center for Infectious Medicine (CIM).

About our research

The major focus of the team is on autoantibody-driven disorders that affect central nervous system functioning. These peculiar disorders tend to be antigen-specific and thus knock out the function of individual neuronal surface proteins. This means that many of the disorders show pathognomonic traits. Furthermore, the immunological mechanisms behind the different syndromes differ; patients with autoantibodies to LGI1 and CASPR2 have for example diverging HLA and tumour associations and demographics, despite the LGI1 and CASPR2 antigens being components of the same voltage-gated potassium channel complex. Thus, they are interesting both from a clinical and an immunological perspective.

Currently, the team works to establish a diagnostic platform based on live cell-based assays and to create a network of collaborative partners in science, neurology, psychiatry, clinical immunology and geriatrics in Scandinavia. Simultaneously the team is starting to delve into clinical and immunological aspects of NMDA-R, LGI1 and GAD65 autoantibody-associated disorders.  

Team leader

Jakob joined the Jenny Mjösberg research group as a Team leader in April 2022.

Jakob conducted his PhD studies on human immunodeficiency syndromes affecting lymphocyte cytotoxicity in the Professor Yenan Bryceson research group from 2010 to 2017, in parallell with his clinical training. After obtaining his medical license and PhD in 2017, he started working as a clinical resident at Psychiatry Southwest. In 2018, he took up a postdoctoral researcher position in the Oxford Autoimmune Neurology Group led by Professor Sarosh Irani. There, he primarily studied lymphocyte function and clonality in the context of autoimmune neurological syndromes, specifically NMDA-R, LGI1 and CASPR2 autoantibody encephalitis as well as Neuromyelitis optica.

Jakob came back to Sweden in 2020 and took up his clinical duties at Psychiatry Southwest and a postdoctoral position in Professor Fredrik Piehl's group, where he focused on immune cell phenotyping in Myasthenia gravis. When not at work, Jakob is a keen musician and loves carpentry.

Team members

Madeleine Liljegren

Affiliated to research
H7 Department of Medicine, Huddinge

Since 2022 Madeleine is a postdoctoral researcher in Jakob Theorell’s team.

Madeleine graduated from the School of Medicine at Lund University in 2013. She performed her two years of medical internship at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm (2015-2017) and conducted her PhD studies in professor Elisabet Englund’s group in Lund between 2013-2018.

In her thesis she investigated the prevalence and consequences of criminal and socially inappropriate behaviors in patients with major neurocognitive disorders (previously called dementia), with a special focus on frontotemporal dementia. She is currently a resident physician at Psychiatry Northwest, Stockholm, with the intention of doing a double specialization in neurology and psychiatry.

Madeleine has been working at the Stockholm psychiatric emergency department since 2013 and holds a special clinical interest for patients with psychosis, neurodegenerative disorders and complex disorders with both neurologic and psychiatric manifestations. She teaches medical students at the Karolinska Institutet, medical interns at Karolinska University Hospital.

Selected publications

  1. Screening for pathogenic neuronal autoantibodies in serum and CSF of patients with first-episode psychosis.
    Theorell J, Ramberger M, Harrison R, Mgbachi V, Jacobson L, Waters P, Erhardt S, Sellgren CM, Cervenka S, Piehl F, Irani SR
    Transl Psychiatry 2021 11;11(1):566 PMID: 34741015
  2. Theorell, J. FlowSpecs: Tools for Processing of High-Dimensional Cytometry Data. Software publication at BioConductor, 2020
  3. Distinctive binding properties of human monoclonal LGI1 autoantibodies determine pathogenic mechanisms.
    Ramberger M, Berretta A, Tan JMM, Sun B, Michael S, Yeo T, Theorell J, Bashford-Rogers R, Paneva S, O'Dowd V, Dedi N, Topia S, Griffin R, Ramirez-Franco J, El Far O, Baulac S, Leite MI, Sen A, Jeans A, McMillan D, Marshall D, Anthony D, Lightwood D, Waters P, Irani SR
    Brain 2020 06;143(6):1731-1745 PMID: 32437528
  4. Adaptive NK cells in people exposed to Plasmodium falciparum correlate with protection from malaria.
    Hart GT, Tran TM, Theorell J, Schlums H, Arora G, Rajagopalan S, Sangala ADJ, Welsh KJ, Traore B, Pierce SK, Crompton PD, Bryceson YT, Long EO
    J Exp Med 2019 06;216(6):1280-1290 PMID: 30979790
  5. Determination of essential phenotypic elements of clusters in high-dimensional entities-DEPECHE.
    Theorell A, Bryceson YT, Theorell J
    PLoS One 2019 ;14(3):e0203247 PMID: 30845234
  6. Corrigendum: Unperturbed Cytotoxic Lymphocyte Phenotype and Function in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients.
    Theorell J, Bileviciute-Ljungar I, Tesi B, Schlums H, Johnsgaard MS, Asadi-Azarbaijani B, Strand EB, Bryceson YT
    Front Immunol 2019 ;10():350 PMID: 30915066
  7. The heterogeneity of human CD127(+) innate lymphoid cells revealed by single-cell RNA sequencing.
    Björklund ÅK, Forkel M, Picelli S, Konya V, Theorell J, Friberg D, Sandberg R, Mjösberg J
    Nat Immunol 2016 Apr;17(4):451-60 PMID: 26878113
  8. High-resolution determination of human immune cell signatures from fine-needle liver aspirates.
    Hengst J, Theorell J, Deterding K, Potthoff A, Dettmer A, Ljunggren HG, Wedemeyer H, Björkström NK
    Eur J Immunol 2015 Jul;45(7):2154-7 PMID: 25824697
  9. Functional anti-CD94/NKG2A and anti-CD94/NKG2C autoantibodies in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
    Hagberg N, Theorell J*, Hjorton K, Spee P, Eloranta ML, Bryceson YT, Rönnblom L
    Arthritis Rheumatol 2015 Apr;67(4):1000-11 PMID: 25510434
  10. Comparison of primary human cytotoxic T-cell and natural killer cell responses reveal similar molecular requirements for lytic granule exocytosis but differences in cytokine production.
    Chiang SC, Theorell J, Entesarian M, Meeths M, Mastafa M, Al-Herz W, Frisk P, Gilmour KC, Ifversen M, Langenskiöld C, Machaczka M, Naqvi A, Payne J, Perez-Martinez A, Sabel M, Unal E, Unal S, Winiarski J, Nordenskjöld M, Ljunggren HG, Henter JI, Bryceson YT
    Blood 2013 Feb;121(8):1345-56 PMID: 23287865
Content reviewer: