Development of autonomic control


Immature or deficient autonomic control is a common problem in infants born at a premature age and is of central importance in apneas, secondary hypoxic brain damage and sudden infant death syndrome.



For better understanding of disturbances in respiratory control we study early development of cardiorespiratory control, brainstem neural networks and its associations with normal and pathological breathing. The conceptual change introduced by our recent data that endogenous prostaglandins are central pathogenic factors in respiratory disorders and the hypoxic response, open new diagnostic and therapeutic avenues that should significantly better the diagnostics and treatment of newborns and adult patients.

Inflammation is a major culprit in breathing disorders and we hypothesize that by using a newly developed urinary prostaglandin biomarker we can screen, detect and protect against inflammation related breathing disorders.

Our collaborative efforts enable us to move from a clinical problem to molecular understanding of the disease and studies are performed in patients, animal & in vitro models.

Our research is focused on the development of autonomic control with normal and paediatric patients as the target. Autonomic dysfunction in breathing and circulatory control often has its origin in neurodevelopment disorders. Furthermore, our basic research in developmental neuroscience how neural activity and stem cells form activity dependent networks is vital for the development of therapeutic interventions.


Selected publications

Forsberg D, Herlenius E. Astrocyte networks modulate respiration - sniffing glue. Respiratory physiology & neurobiology. 2018 Jun 30. pii: S1569-9048(18)30055-7.

Leifsdottir K, Mehmet H, Eksborg S, Herlenius E. Fas-ligand and interleukin-6 in the cerebrospinal fluid are early predictors of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and long-term outcomes after birth asphyxia in term infants. Journal of neuroinflammation. 2018 Aug 8;15(1):223.

Caffeine For Apnea Of Prematurity (cap) Trial Group, Mürner-Lavanchy IM, Doyle LW, Schmidt B, Roberts RS, Asztalos EV, et al. Neurobehavioral Outcomes 11 Years After Neonatal Caffeine Therapy for Apnea of Prematurity. Pediatrics. 2018 May;141(5).

Caffeine For Apnea Of Prematurity (cap) Trial Group, Schmidt B, Roberts RS, Anderson PJ, Asztalos EV, Costantini L, et al. Academic Performance, Motor Function, and Behavior 11 Years After Neonatal Caffeine Citrate Therapy for Apnea of Prematurity: An 11-Year Follow-up of the CAP Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA pediatrics. 2017 Jun 1;171(6):564-572.

Forsberg D, Ringstedt T, Herlenius E. Astrocytes release prostaglandin E2 to modify respiratory network activity. eLife. 2017 Oct 6;6.

Forsberg D, Thonabulsombat C, Jäderstad J, Jäderstad LM, Olivius P, Herlenius E. Functional Stem Cell Integration into Neural Networks Assessed by Organotypic Slice Cultures. Current protocols in stem cell biology. 2017;42():2D.13.1-2D.13.30.

Karalexi MA, Dessypris N, Skalkidou A, Biniaris-Georgallis S, Kalogirou ΕΙ, Thomopoulos TP, Herlenius E, et al. Maternal fetal loss history and increased acute leukemia subtype risk in subsequent offspring: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Causes Control. 2017 Jun;28(6):599-624.

Dyberg C, Fransson S, Andonova T, Sveinbjörnsson B, Lännerholm-Palm J, Olsen TK, et al. Rho-associated kinase is a therapeutic target in neuroblastoma. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Aug 8;114(32):E6603-E6612.

Herlenius E. Unexpected, unexplained and life-threatening events in infants are age-dependent descriptive syndromes with different risk and management. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992) 2017;106(2):191-193.

Forsberg D, Horn Z, Tserga E, Smedler E, Silberberg G, Shvarev Y, et al. CO2-evoked release of PGE2 modulates sighs and inspiration as demonstrated in brainstem organotypic culture. eLife. 2016 Jul 5;5.