Diaz Heijtz Laboratory

Associate Professor

Rochellys Diaz Heijtz

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 878 86
E-mail: Rochellys.Heijtz@ki.se

Research focus

Our research interests are centered on understanding the biological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders, with a focus on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We use different animal model systems to understand the contribution of genetic factors, impact of early adverse life experience (e.g., stress, infections), and gene-environment interactions on the development of motor, affective and cognitive functions, which are impaired in ADHD and ASD. We are also interested in exploring the potential clinical utility of cognitive enhancers in combination with motor/cognitive training for the treatment of these disorders.

Our work is performed in collaboration with clinicians and psychologists at the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital and Karolinska Institutet Center of Neurodevelopmental
Disorders (KIND). This optimizes the opportunities for iterative translation from basic to clinical research and back to more fundamental mechanistic studies.

Key subjects of interest:

  1. Impact of normal gut microbiota on brain development and behavior.
  2. Clinical studies of young children at high risk for developing ASD, with special focus on the potential role of the gut microbiota.
  3. Molecular and epigenetic mechanisms underlying motor/cognitive training-induced plasticity and modulation by cognitive enhancers.

Selected publications

Toll-like receptor-4 regulates anxiety-like behavior and DARPP-32 phosphorylation.
Femenia T, Qian Y, Arentsen T,  Forssberg H, Diaz Heijtz R.
Brain Behav Immun. 2017 In Press, 6 December. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2017.11.022

Sex-dependent alterations in motor and anxiety-like behavior of aged bacterial peptidoglycan sensing molecule 2 knockout mice.
Arentsen T, Khalid R, Qian Y, Diaz Heijtz R
Brain Behav. Immun. 2018 Jan;67():345-354








Group members

Tim Arentsen - PhD student

Rochellys Diaz Heijtz - Senior researcher

Adamantia Fragkopoulou - Postdoc

Ting Wang - Postdoc

Qian Yu - Senior lab manager