Homeostasis and tissue repair mechanisms in the mammalian system, pericytes, stem cells – Christian Göritz Group

We are studying homeostasis and tissue repair mechanisms in the mammalian system with a focus on perivascular cells, fibrosis and endogenous stem cells.

Confocal image of spinal cord full crush lesion

Our research

Fibrotic scarring

The adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) has a poor regenerative capacity and CNS injury most often leads to the persistent loss of body functions. 

One important (biological) cause why functional deficit become permanent is the establishment of a scar that blocks regeneration of the connections between neurons (axons). In our research, we explore the origin and function of scar tissue and how the fibrotic scar component influences axonal regeneration and functional recovery after spinal cord injury. We previously discovered a specific subpopulation of cells surrounding blood vessels (perivascular cells) as the main source of fibrotic scar tissue following a variety of distinct CNS injuries. Perivascular-derived stromal fibroblasts mediate wound closure and are thus important to re-establish tissue integrity after injury, but at the same time constitute the long-term persistent fibrotic scar. We have shown that attenuation of perivascular-derived scarring led to improved regeneration of nerve fibers and functional recovery. Thus, we believe that modulation of fibrotic scarring represents a therapeutic target to treat CNS injury, which we explore further in a variety of CNS lesions.

Schematic illustrations depicting the contribution of perivascular cells to diverse CNS lesions.
Schematic illustrations depicting the contribution of perivascular cells to diverse CNS lesions. Dias, D.O., Kalkitsas, J. et al. Pericyte-derived fibrotic scarring is conserved across diverse central nervous system lesions. Nat Commun 12, 5501 (2021)

Endogenous cell replacement

For tissue regeneration, not only scar tissue needs to be removed, but lost cells need to be replaced. We study endogenous stem / progenitor cells and reprogramming strategies to achieve this. Astrocytes have emerged as a potential source for new neurons in the adult brain. In mice, adult striatal neurogenesis can be stimulated by local damage, which recruits striatal astrocytes into a neurogenic program. We identified Notch signaling as a key pathway controlling striatal astrocyte-derived neurogenesis. Furthermore, we showed that astrocyte-derived neurons can functionally integrate into the striatal circuitry of adult mice.

Physiological function

We also explore the physiological function of perivascular cells and especially perivascular fibroblasts. In some organs like the penis, perivascular fibroblasts are highly abundant. However, their physiological function is unknown. We are investigating the role of perivascular fibroblasts for penile erection. 

Corpora cavernosa of the mouse penis:  A cross-section image of a mouse penis. Cells in red represent fibroblasts, while cells in green denote vascular smooth muscle cells, and cells in cyan indicate endothelial cells.
Corpora cavernosa of the mouse penis: A cross-section image of a mouse penis. Cells in red represent fibroblasts, while cells in green denote vascular smooth muscle cells, and cells in cyan indicate endothelial cells. Photo: Eduardo Guimaraes

The lab

Göritz lab
Göritz lab Photo: Fan Xu

Historic lab pictures

Portrait of Christian Göritz's group
Image gallery
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Alumni

Marie Orre, Postdoc (2013-2015)

Maria Diaz, Postdoc (2015-2017)

Yutong Feng, visiting MD PhD student (2016-2017)

Yildiz Kelahmetoglu, PhD student (2013-2017)

Bettina Reichenbach, Postdoc (2013-2018)

Donia Arafa, Master student, (2018)

Jodie Lunger, Bachelor student (2018)

Ching Wai Lok Whitney, Master student (2018)

Maria Kovatchka, Bachelor student (2019)

Shuai Lang, Master student (2019)

Julia Svensson, Master student (2020)

Soniya Savant, Postdoc (2015-2021)

Maximilian Sprügel, MD PhD student (2022)

Mandy Booij, Bachelor student (2022)

Alek Banka, Master student (2022)

Jannis Kaltkitsas, PhD student, dissertation for PhD 2021

Hannah Kristen, Master student (2022)

Stefanie Balk, MD PhD student (2023)

Mar Tortajada, Bachelor student (2023)

Inés Talaya, Master student (2023)

Publications

Selected publications

Staff and contact

Group leader

All members of the group

Visiting address

Karolinska Institute, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Biomedicum 5D, Stockholm, Sweden

News

Keywords:
Cell and Molecular Biology Medical Biotechnology (focus on Cell Biology (incl. Stem Cell Biology), Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry or Biopharmacy) Neurosciences
CG
Content reviewer:
Linda Lindell
18-04-2024