Research group Asghar Muhammad


Asghar Muhammad (Principal Investigator, Group leader)

Recovery from an infection is not always complete, and survivors might suffer some long-term health consequences especially in case of chronic asymptomatic or repeated infections. One of the fundamental question in biomedicine is, how infectious diseases affect the host? How seemingly mild chronic and repeated infections impact on the body and how such impact eventually lead to a hidden long-term devastating outcome for the host.

Our legacy consists of DNA that is packed in chromosomes. When cells divide, the inheritance is copied, but for each cell division, the ends of the DNA threads get shorter. The so-called telomers are shortened which leads us to age. I have previously shown that chronic asymptomatic malaria infections reduce lifespan in birds, mediated through accelerated telomere shortening that occurs in many body tissues (Asghar et al. Science 2015). Furthermore, in a recent traveler study at Karolinska University Hospital, we show that malaria infection accelerates cellular ageing in human (Asghar et al. Aging Cell, 2018). However, our knowledge is limited about the underlaying cellular mechanisms that leads to such long-term hidden consequences.

My lab is searching for novel targets beyond state of the art research by targeting cellular aging rather to target classical infiltrated cells and inflammatory molecules to understand such cellular mechanisms that mediate the long term hidden cost of infection. We take integrative approaches by combining experimental, epidemiological and cellular studies to explore impact of infectious diseases (HIV, Tuberculosis, Influenza and bacterial infections) on several aging hallmarks in different immune compartments as well as in different body tissues.

The vision of my is to prevent the negative impact of infectious diseases on ageing and thereby increase healthy productive years of human life through research.

I am a senior researcher and Ragnar Söderberg Fellow in Medicine at Department of Medicine. I have received my Master and PhD degree from Lund University Sweden. After my PhD I joined KI as postdoctoral fellow and serve for 4years and appointed as Assistant Professor after completion of my Postdoctoral fellowship.

Team Asghar

Asghar Muhammad

K2 Department of Medicine, Solna

Aurelie Miglar

PhD student
K2 Department of Medicine, Solna

Aurelie Miglar (PhD student)

During my undergraduate studies in Ecology at the University of Vienna (B.Sc. 2015) my main focus was to study empirical and theoretical host-parasite, and genotype-environment interactions. Pursuing an internship at the University of Gothenburg at the Department of Bioinformatics and Functional genomics introduced me to novel Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) approaches, helping to provide sophisticated understanding of the genome complexity of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, with relevance on developing advanced preventive treatment concepts.

Shirin Akhter

Postdoctoral researcher
K2 Department of Medicine, Solna

Pengjun Xi

My research interest is to study the impact of infections on aging. During my PhD studies, I will be investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of aging and understanding how acute and chronic infections contribute to cellular aging, mainly focus on understanding how infections affect the telomere length, DNA methylation and mitochondrial dysfuntions as well as other aging hallmarks and how they are inter-connected to contribute to cellular aging. Prior to my PhD, he obtained his Bachelor degree in Chengdu, China and received his Master degree in Edinburgh, UK. Following the Masters' study, I have been working as a research assistant in Oxford for four years. 

Selected publications 2015 - 2019

Urothelial cell senescence is not linked with telomere shortening.
Chamorro CI, Asghar M, Ekblad Å, Färnert A, Götherström C, Fossum M
J Tissue Eng Regen Med 2019 Sep;13(9):1518-1527

Cellular aging dynamics after acute malaria infection: A 12-month longitudinal study.
Asghar M, Yman V, Homann MV, Sondén K, Hammar U, Hasselquist D, et al
Aging Cell 2018 02;17(1):

Detection of Malaria Parasites After Treatment in Travelers: A 12-months Longitudinal Study and Statistical Modelling Analysis.
Vafa Homann M, Emami SN, Yman V, Stenström C, Sondén K, Ramström H, et al
EBioMedicine 2017 Nov;25():66-72

Pale and dark morphs of tawny owls show different patterns of telomere dynamics in relation to disease status.
Karell P, Bensch S, Ahola K, Asghar M
Proc. Biol. Sci. 2017 Jul;284(1859):

Parallel telomere shortening in multiple body tissues owing to malaria infection.
Asghar M, Palinauskas V, Zaghdoudi-Allan N, Valkiūnas G, Mukhin A, Platonova E, et al
Proc. Biol. Sci. 2016 Aug;283(1836):

Chronic infection. Hidden costs of infection: chronic malaria accelerates telomere degradation and senescence in wild birds.
Asghar M, Hasselquist D, Hansson B, Zehtindjiev P, Westerdahl H, Bensch S
Science 2015 Jan;347(6220):436-8

Maternal and genetic factors determine early life telomere length.
Asghar M, Bensch S, Tarka M, Hansson B, Hasselquist D
Proc. Biol. Sci. 2015 Jan;282(1799):20142263