Elisabet Åkesson group

Human Neural Lesion, Repair and Rehab

Experimental research focus

Our interest is central nervous system lesions including spinal cord injury and treatment strategies to counteract neurodegenerative processes. We develop and utilize novel and unique model systems to evaluate specifically human spinal cord injury processes and repair strategies. In addition, we study host donor interactions including allogeneic responses to human neural cell therapy.

We perform organotypic spinal cord slice cultures as well as co-cultures including human neural cells, glial cell populations and/or human peripheral blood mononuclear cells to follow spinal cord injury processes and interactions between the injured spinal cord and potential donor neural cells.

Photo: Calzarossa & Åkesson

We have the opportunity to compare human neural cells of various origins and from stem cell stage to more differentiated phenotypes concerning their immunocompetence and potential in neural cell therapy. In collaborations with others we utilize our cell and tissue slice systems to evaluate various biomaterials as support in regenerative medicine as well as develop new techniques in the expansion of neural cells for clinical application, such as the patented device Biogrid (PMID: 21850297). The laboratory is located in Bioclinicum Karolinska Institutets at North Campus in Solna.

Experimental research group members

Profile image

Elisabet Åkesson

Adjunct Senior Lecturer

Clinical research focus


We also perform clinical research in the field of nervous system lesions, neurodegenerative disorders, rehabilitation as well as primary care. We participate in the international clinical trial TransEuro & BOOSTB4.

Clinical rehabilitation research is ongoing at Stiftelsen Stockholms Sjukhem where Elisabet Åkesson is Head of R&D as well as clinical physician at Rehabilitation, Stockholms Sjukhem.

Examples of clinical research studies at Rehabilitation Care, Stockholms Sjukhem (SSH) and https://www.stockholmssjukhem.se/topplankar/forskning-och-utbildning

  • Make My Day: Value Based Client Centered and ICT-supported primary and secondary stroke prevention and rehabilitation after stroke, PI Eric Asaba, Ann-Helen Patomella & Susanne Guidetti
  • Stroke, Rehabilitative training and tactile massage, PI Elisabet Åkesson
  • Implementation of HiBalance training/ Förbättrad balans och fysisk aktivitet hos äldre - implementering av ett utmanande och progressivt träningsprogram, PI Erika Franzén
  • Oral screens in post stroke training: a randomized clinical trial, PI, Gunilla Sandborgh Englund, KI
  • Etablering av långsiktigt stöd efter förvärvad hjärnskada: Implementering och erfarenheter av Hjärna Tillsammans, PI Lena von Koch, Malin Tistad, Susanne Guidetti, Elisabet Åkesson
  • DISKO: An interactive distance solution for stroke rehabilitation in the home setting, PIs E Åkesson & Susanne Palmcrants, Danderyds Hospital, Rehabilitation Medicine Clinic.


Selected scientific publications


Xiaofei Li, Zaneta Andrusivova, Paulo Czarnewski, Alma Andersson, Christoffer Mattsson Langseth, Daniel Gyllborg, Emelie Braun; Ludvig Larsson, Lijuan Hu, Zjanna Alekseenko, Helena Kopp Kallner, Elisabet Åkesson, Igor Adameyko, Mats Nilsson, Sten Linnarsson, Joakim Lundeberg and Erik Sundström. Decoding spatiotemporal gene expression of the developing human spinal cord and implications for ependymoma origin". Nature Neuroscience. 2022 Nov 25. Accepted. BioRxiv: doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.08.31.505986

Return to work after COVID-19: Experiences and expectations from the first wave of COVID-19 in Stockholm.
Asaba E, Farias L, Åkesson E
PLoS One 2022 ;17(12):e0279000

A genome-wide association study with tissue transcriptomics identifies genetic drivers for classic bladder exstrophy.
Mingardo E, Beaman G, Grote P, Nordenskjöld A, Newman W, Woolf AS, Eckstein M, Hilger AC, Dworschak GC, Rösch W, Ebert AK, Stein R, Brusco A, Di Grazia M, Tamer A, Torres FM, Hernandez JL, Erben P, Maj C, Olmos JM, Riancho JA, Valero C, Hostettler IC, Houlden H, Werring DJ, Schumacher J, Gehlen J, Giel AS, Buerfent BC, Arkani S, Åkesson E, Rotstein E, Ludwig M, Holmdahl G, Giorgio E, Berettini A, Keene D, Cervellione RM, Younsi N, Ortlieb M, Oswald J, Haid B, Promm M, Neissner C, Hirsch K, Stehr M, Schäfer FM, Schmiedeke E, Boemers TM, van Rooij IALM, Feitz WFJ, Marcelis CLM, Lacher M, Nelson J, Ure B, Fortmann C, Gale DP, Chan MMY, Ludwig KU, Nöthen MM, Heilmann S, Zwink N, Jenetzky E, Odermatt B, Knapp M, Reutter H
Commun Biol 2022 Nov;5(1):1203

Two Years with COVID-19: The Electronic Frailty Index Identifies High-Risk Patients in the Stockholm GeroCovid Study.
Mak JKL, Eriksdotter M, Annetorp M, Kuja-Halkola R, Kananen L, Boström AM, Kivipelto M, Metzner C, Bäck Jerlardtz V, Engström M, Johnson P, Lundberg LG, Åkesson E, Sühl Öberg C, Olsson M, Cederholm T, Hägg S, Religa D, Jylhävä J
Gerontology 2022 Nov;():1-10

Asaba Eric, Michael Sy, Roi Charles Pineda, Rebecca Aldrich, Tetsuya Anzai, Peter Bontje, Ursa Bratun, Lisette Farias, Maria Kapanadze, Lea Suc and Elisabet Åkesson. Return to work after COVID-19: an international perspective, World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin.  2022 https://doi.org/10.1080/14473828.2022.2045819

Development of an Electronic Frailty Index for Hospitalized Older Adults in Sweden.
Mak JKL, Hägg S, Eriksdotter M, Annetorp M, Kuja-Halkola R, Kananen L, Boström AM, Kivipelto M, Metzner C, Bäck Jerlardtz V, Engström M, Johnson P, Lundberg LG, Åkesson E, Sühl Öberg C, Olsson M, Cederholm T, Jylhävä J, Religa D
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2022 Nov;77(11):2311-2319

'Weaving lifestyle habits': Complex pathways to health for persons at risk for stroke.
Mälstam E, Asaba E, Åkesson E, Guidetti S, Patomella AH
Scand J Occup Ther 2022 Feb;29(2):152-164

Body mass index and Mini Nutritional Assessment-Short Form as predictors of in-geriatric hospital mortality in older adults with COVID-19.
Kananen L, Eriksdotter M, Boström AM, Kivipelto M, Annetorp M, Metzner C, Bäck Jerlardtz V, Engström M, Johnson P, Lundberg LG, Åkesson E, Sühl Öberg C, Hägg S, Religa D, Jylhävä J, Cederholm T
Clin Nutr 2022 Dec;41(12):2973-2979

Decreased Mortality Over Time During the First Wave in Patients With COVID-19 in Geriatric Care: Data From the Stockholm GeroCovid Study.
Xu H, Garcia-Ptacek S, Annetorp M, Cederholm T, Engel G, Engström M, Erlandsson H, Julius C, Kivipelto M, Lundberg LG, Metzner C, Sandberg L, Skogö Nyvang J, Sühl Öberg C, Åkesson E, Religa D, Eriksdotter M
J Am Med Dir Assoc 2021 Aug;22(8):1565-1573.e4

In Vitro Study of Human Immune Responses to Hyaluronic Acid Hydrogels, Recombinant Spidroins and Human Neural Progenitor Cells of Relevance to Spinal Cord Injury Repair.
Lin C, Ekblad-Nordberg Å, Michaëlsson J, Götherström C, Hsu CC, Ye H, Johansson J, Rising A, Sundström E, Åkesson E
Cells 2021 Jul;10(7):

Self-organising human gonads generated by a Matrigel-based gradient system.
Oliver E, Alves-Lopes JP, Harteveld F, Mitchell RT, Åkesson E, Söder O, Stukenborg JB
BMC Biol 2021 Sep;19(1):212

Transplantation of Human Neural Precursor Cells Reverses Syrinx Growth in a Rat Model of Post-Traumatic Syringomyelia.
Xu N, Xu T, Mirasol R, Holmberg L, Vincent PH, Li X, Falk A, Benedikz E, Rotstein E, Seiger Å, Åkesson E, Falci S, Sundström E
Neurotherapeutics 2021 Apr;18(2):1257-1272

Spermatogonia Loss Correlates with LAMA 1 Expression in Human Prepubertal Testes Stored for Fertility Preservation.
Kurek M, Åkesson E, Yoshihara M, Oliver E, Cui Y, Becker M, Alves-Lopes JP, Bjarnason R, Romerius P, Sundin M, Norén Nyström U, Langenskiöld C, Vogt H, Henningsohn L, Petersen C, Söder O, Guo J, Mitchell RT, Jahnukainen K, Stukenborg JB
Cells 2021 Jan;10(2):

Human ex vivo spinal cord slice culture as a useful model of neural development, lesion, and allogeneic neural cell therapy.
Lin C, Calzarossa C, Fernandez-Zafra T, Liu J, Li X, Ekblad-Nordberg Å, Vazquez-Juarez E, Codeluppi S, Holmberg L, Lindskog M, Uhlén P, Åkesson E
Stem Cell Res Ther 2020 Jul;11(1):320

A qualitative study-Patient experience of tactile massage after stroke.
Seiger Cronfalk B, Åkesson E, Nygren J, Nyström A, Strandell AM, Ruas J, von Euler M
Nurs Open 2020 Sep;7(5):1446-1452

Thunborg, C., Åkesson, E., Leavy, B., Håkansson, K., Sindi, S., Solomon, A., Levak, N. and Kivipelto, M. (2020), STRONGER 60+ Adaption of the multimodal FINGER model to prevent cognitive decline in a Swedish primary care rehabilitation unit: An effectiveness-implementation hybrid design. Alzheimer's Dement., 16: e042029. https://doi.org/10.1002/alz.042029

Translation and validation of two International Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Data Sets-a modified process.
Wahman K, Nilsson E, Antepohl W, Samuelsson K, Åkesson E, Kuhlefelt Sandberg A, Augutis M
Spinal Cord Ser Cases 2019 ;5():105

Primary prevention of stroke: randomised controlled pilot trial protocol on engaging everyday activities promoting health.
Patomella AH, Guidetti S, Mälstam E, Eriksson C, Bergström A, Åkesson E, Kottorp A, Asaba E
BMJ Open 2019 Nov;9(11):e031984

A Spatiotemporal Organ-Wide Gene Expression and Cell Atlas of the Developing Human Heart.
Asp M, Giacomello S, Larsson L, Wu C, Fürth D, Qian X, Wärdell E, Custodio J, Reimegård J, Salmén F, Österholm C, Ståhl PL, Sundström E, Åkesson E, Bergmann O, Bienko M, Månsson-Broberg A, Nilsson M, Sylvén C, Lundeberg J
Cell 2019 Dec;179(7):1647-1660.e19

Identification of amino acid residues of nerve growth factor important for neurite outgrowth in human dorsal root ganglion neurons.
Dahlström M, Nordvall G, Sundström E, Åkesson E, Tegerstedt G, Eriksdotter M, Forsell P
Eur J Neurosci 2019 Nov;50(9):3487-3501

Sexual health policies in stroke rehabilitation: A multi national study.
Vikan JK, Nilsson MI, Bushnik T, Deng W, Elessi K, Frost-Bareket Y, Kovrigina E, Shahwan J, Snekkevik H, Åkesson E, Stanghelle JK, Fugl-Meyer KS
J Rehabil Med 2019 May;51(5):361-368

Characterization of molecular mechanisms underlying the axonal Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy caused by MORC2 mutations.
Sancho P, Bartesaghi L, Miossec O, García-García F, Ramírez-Jiménez L, Siddell A, Åkesson E, Hedlund E, Laššuthová P, Pascual-Pascual SI, Sevilla T, Kennerson M, Lupo V, Chrast R, Espinós C
Hum Mol Genet 2019 May;28(10):1629-1644

Hormone Production by Human First-Trimester Gonads in a Functional In Vitro System.
Albalushi H, Sahlin L, Åkesson E, Kurek M, Kjartansdóttir KR, Lindh R, Söder O, Rotstein E, Hovatta O, Stukenborg JB
Endocrinology 2019 Jan;160(1):133-142

A Combinatorial Approach to Induce Sensory Axon Regeneration into the Dorsal Root Avulsed Spinal Cord.
Hoeber J, König N, Trolle C, Lekholm E, Zhou C, Pankratova S, et al
Stem Cells Dev 2017 07;26(14):1065-1077

Incidence, aetiology and injury characteristics of traumatic spinal cord injury in Stockholm, Sweden: A prospective, population-based update.
Joseph C, Andersson N, Bjelak S, Giesecke K, Hultling C, Nilsson Wikmar L, et al
J Rehabil Med 2017 May;49(5):431-436

Transplanted Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neural Progenitor Cells Do Not Promote Functional Recovery of Pharmacologically Immunosuppressed Mice With Contusion Spinal Cord Injury.
Pomeshchik Y, Puttonen KA, Kidin I, Ruponen M, Lehtonen S, Malm T, et al
Cell Transplant 2015 ;24(9):1799-812

Neuroprotective effects of human spinal cord-derived neural precursor cells after transplantation to the injured spinal cord.
Emgård M, Piao J, Aineskog H, Liu J, Calzarossa C, Odeberg J, et al
Exp Neurol 2014 Mar;253():138-45

Interplay between human microglia and neural stem/progenitor cells in an allogeneic co-culture model.
Liu J, Hjorth E, Zhu M, Calzarossa C, Samuelsson EB, Schultzberg M, et al
J Cell Mol Med 2013 Nov;17(11):1434-43

Human neural stem/progenitor cells derived from embryonic stem cells and fetal nervous system present differences in immunogenicity and immunomodulatory potentials in vitro.
Liu J, Götherström C, Forsberg M, Samuelsson EB, Wu J, Calzarossa C, et al
Stem Cell Res 2013 May;10(3):325-37

Biogrid--a microfluidic device for large-scale enzyme-free dissociation of stem cell aggregates.
Wallman L, Åkesson E, Ceric D, Andersson PH, Day K, Hovatta O, et al
Lab Chip 2011 Oct;11(19):3241-8

Human neural stem cells and astrocytes, but not neurons, suppress an allogeneic lymphocyte response.
Akesson E, Wolmer-Solberg N, Cederarv M, Falci S, Odeberg J
Stem Cell Res 2009 Jan;2(1):56-67

Long-term survival, robust neuronal differentiation, and extensive migration of human forebrain stem/progenitor cells transplanted to the adult rat dorsal root ganglion cavity.
Akesson E, Sandelin M, Kanaykina N, Aldskogius H, Kozlova EN
Cell Transplant 2008 ;17(10-11):1115-23

Long-term culture and neuronal survival after intraspinal transplantation of human spinal cord-derived neurospheres.
Akesson E, Piao JH, Samuelsson EB, Holmberg L, Kjaeldgaard A, Falci S, et al
Physiol Behav 2007 Sep;92(1-2):60-6

Low immunogenicity of in vitro-expanded human neural cells despite high MHC expression.
Odeberg J, Piao JH, Samuelsson EB, Falci S, Akesson E
J Neuroimmunol 2005 Apr;161(1-2):1-11

Solid human embryonic spinal cord xenografts in acute and chronic spinal cord cavities: a morphological and functional study.
Akesson E, Holmberg L, Jönhagen ME, Kjaeldgaard A, Falci S, Sundström E, et al
Exp Neurol 2001 Aug;170(2):305-16

MHC antigen expression in human first trimester spinal cord with implications for clinical transplantation procedures.
Akesson E, Markling L, Kjaeldgaard A, Falci S, Ringdén O
J Neuroimmunol 2000 Nov;111(1-2):210-4

Human embryonic spinal cord grafts in adult rat spinal cord cavities: survival, growth, and interactions with the host.
Akesson E, Kjaeldgaard A, Seiger A
Exp Neurol 1998 Jan;149(1):262-76

Obliteration of a posttraumatic spinal cord cyst with solid human embryonic spinal cord grafts: first clinical attempt.
Falci S, Holtz A, Akesson E, Azizi M, Ertzgaard P, Hultling C, et al
J Neurotrauma 1997 Nov;14(11):875-84




Tingting Xu, 2022, Neural stem cell therapy and inflammation status of post-traumatic syringomyelia, https://openarchive.ki.se/xmlui/handle/10616/48092

Chenhong Lin, 2021, Human spinal cord models for development of spinal cord injury repair strategies, https://openarchive.ki.se/xmlui/handle/10616/47771

Halima Albalushi, 2018, In vitro models aiming for fertility preservation, https://openarchive.ki.se/xmlui/handle/10616/46464

Ning Xu, 2015, Assesment of rat spinal cord injury models, https://openarchive.ki.se/xmlui/handle/10616/44936

Jia Liu, 2013, Host responses to human neural cell therapy in spinal cord injury, https://openarchive.ki.se/xmlui/handle/10616/41710

Junghua Piao, 2007, Human neural precursor cells in spinal cord repair, https://openarchive.ki.se/xmlui/handle/10616/39715

Content reviewer:
Philipp Kreft