Chemical and functional neuroanatomy of pain and stress systems - Tomas Hökfelt group

Our research involves studies of neuropeptides and their receptors in the nervous and endocrine systems, mainly based on histochemical techniques such as immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, but also molecular biological methods. During recent years focus has been on analysis of human postmortem tissues.

Immunofluorescence micrograph of human dorsal root ganglion after incubation with antiserum to the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).

Research focus

Chemical Neurotransmission Research

Our research is focused on chemical messengers in the nervous and endocrine systems, mainly based on histochemical techniques: immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridiza­tion. We also use molecular biological approaches including RT-PCR and have created some transgenic animals.

We are interested in the concept that a neuron produces and re­leases more than one transmitter substance. In particular, our work has focused on the role of neuropeptides in the central and peripheral nervous system, including substance P, cholecystokinin (CCK), galanin and neuropeptide Y (NPY), four peptides that have been discovered by scientists at Karolinska Institutet. These peptides often have a modulating role, exerting their effects via 7-transmembrane, G-protein-coupled receptors. The peptide systems are involved in numerous functions, for example control of food intake, as well as in various diseases such as obesity, anorexia nervosa, pain and depression.

We are now particularly interested in studying human tissues to validate hypotheses based on rodent experiments with the aim to understand mechanisms underlying pain and depression and to develop novel strategies for treatment of these disorders .

Group members

Selected publications

Transient expression of the neuropeptide galanin modulates peripheral‑to‑central connectivity in the somatosensory thalamus during whisker development in mice.
Hevesi Z, Bakker J, Tretiakov EO, Adori C, Raabgrund A, Barde SS, Caramia M, Krausgruber T, Ladstätter S, Bock C, Hökfelt T, Harkany T
Nat Commun 2024 Mar;15(1):2762

Heterosynaptic plasticity of the visuo-auditory projection requires cholecystokinin released from entorhinal cortex afferents.
Sun W, Wu H, Peng Y, Zheng X, Li J, Zeng D, Tang P, Zhao M, Feng H, Li H, Liang Y, Su J, Chen X, Hökfelt T, He J
Elife 2024 Mar;13():

The therapeutic potential of galanin in the management of pain - a review article.
Hökfelt T, Wiesenfeld-Hallin Z
Dan Med J 2024 Jan;71(2):

Substance P, NPY, CCK and their receptors in five brain regions in major depressive disorder with transcriptomic analysis of locus coeruleus neurons.
Barde S, Aguila J, Zhong W, Solarz A, Mei I, Prud'homme J, Palkovits M, Turecki G, Mulder J, Uhlén M, Nagy C, Mechawar N, Hedlund E, Hökfelt T
Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2024 Jan;78():54-63

Neuronal diversity of neuropeptide signaling, including galanin, in the mouse locus coeruleus.
Caramia M, Romanov RA, Sideromenos S, Hevesi Z, Zhao M, Krasniakova M, Xu ZD, Harkany T, Hökfelt TGM
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2023 Aug;120(31):e2222095120

Distribution, cellular localization, and colocalization of several peptide neurotransmitters in the central nervous system of Aplysia.
Hawkins RD, Brodin L, Theodorsson E, Végvári Á, Kandel ER, Hokfelt T
Learn Mem 2023 ;30(5-6):116-123

Spatiotemporal characterization of cellular tau pathology in the human locus coeruleus-pericoerulear complex by three-dimensional imaging.
Gilvesy A, Husen E, Magloczky Z, Mihaly O, Hortobágyi T, Kanatani S, Heinsen H, Renier N, Hökfelt T, Mulder J, Uhlen M, Kovacs GG, Adori C
Acta Neuropathol 2022 Oct;144(4):651-676

The neuropeptide landscape of human prefrontal cortex.
Zhong W, Barde S, Mitsios N, Adori C, Oksvold P, Feilitzen KV, O'Leary L, Csiba L, Hortobágyi T, Szocsics P, Mechawar N, Maglóczky Z, Renner É, Palkovits M, Uhlén M, Mulder J, Hökfelt T
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2022 Aug;119(33):e2123146119

Disorganization and degeneration of liver sympathetic innervations in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease revealed by 3D imaging.
Adori C, Daraio T, Kuiper R, Barde S, Horvathova L, Yoshitake T, Ihnatko R, Valladolid-Acebes I, Vercruysse P, Wellendorf AM, Gramignoli R, Bozoky B, Kehr J, Theodorsson E, Cancelas JA, Mravec B, Jorns C, Ellis E, Mulder J, Uhlén M, Bark C, Hökfelt T
Sci Adv 2021 Jul;7(30):


Profile image

Tomas Hökfelt

Affiliated to Research