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 Neo at Karolinska Institutets South Campus in Huddinge and Bioclinicum Karolinska Institutets at North Campus in Solna.

Experimental research group members

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 trials TransEuro and BOOSTB4.

Clinical rehabilitation and primary care research is ongoing at Stiftelsen Stockholms Sjukhem, R&D unit, Rehabilitation and primary care, where E Åkesson is clinical physician and coordinating R&D activities.

Examples of clinical research studies at Rehabilitation and Primary Care, Stockholms Sjukhem (SSH):

  • Sunnaas International Network Stroke Study, PI Kerstin Sjögren Fugl-Meyer with SSH as collaborative partner
  • Incidence, etiology and injury characteristics of traumatic SCI in Stockholm: A prospective, population based study, PI Kerstin Wahman, with SSH as collaborative partner
  • Make My Day: Value Based Client Centered and ICT-supported primary and secondary stroke prevention and rehabilitation after stroke, PI Eric Asaba, Susanne Guidetti, Kerstin Tham
  • Stroke, Rehabilitative training and tactile massage, PI Elisabet Åkesson
  • EFFECTS: Efficacy of fluoxetine, A randomized controlled trial in stroke, PI, Erik Lundström, KS/KI, SSH as collaborative partner with Ellinore Richardson in charge at SSH
  • 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
  • Better In- Better out: Preoperativ träning för att minska risken för komplikationer och ge kortare vårdtider för sköra äldre efter operation, PI Elisabeth Rydwik, Erica Franzén, with SSH as collaborative partner
  • 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, Jörgen Borg at DS Rehab medicine.

Selected scientific publications

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


Ning Xu, 2015: Assessment of rat spinal cord injury models

Jia Liu, 2013: Host responses to human neural cell therapy in spinal cord injury

Jing-Hua Piao, 2007: Human neural precursor cells in spinal cord repair