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Homeostatic Plasticity

Neurons adapt their synaptic and intrinsic properties in response to changes in network activity. However, despite these changes stability of neuronal networks must be assured. We are interested in better understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms, which control the ability of neurons to maintain stability under physiological and pathological conditions. Augmenting this ability of neurons to compensate could increase the ‘homeostatic resilience’ of neural networks to pathological stimuli.


Maggio N, Vlachos A° (2014) Synaptic plasticity at the interface of health and disease: new insights on the role of endoplasmic reticulum intracellular calcium stores. Neuroscience. 281C: 135-146.

Vlachos A°, Ikenberg B, Lenz M, Becker D, Reifenberg K, Bas Orth C, Deller T (2013). Synaptopodin regulates denervation-induced homeostatic synaptic plasticity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 110: 8242-7.

Vlachos A*, Reddy-Alla S*, Papadopoulos T, Deller T, Betz H° (2013). Homeostatic regulation of gephyrin scaffolds and synaptic strength at mature hippocampal GABAergic postsynapses. Cereb Cortex. 23: 2700-2711.

Vlachos A°, Becker D, Jedlicka P, Winkels R, Roeper J, Deller T (2012). Entorhinal denervation induces homeostatic synaptic scaling of excitatory postsynapses of dentate granule cells in mouse organotypic slice cultures. PLoS One. 7: e32883.

Inflammation and Synaptic Plasticity

A major hallmark of brain diseases is neuroinflammation. We are interested in how immune mediators affect synaptic plasticity. Particularly, our work focuses on better understanding how these factors influence intracellular calcium stores, i.e. the spine apparatus organelle, and how these changes alter the ability of neurons to express associative and homeostatic synaptic plasticity. We study the role of coagulation factors in this context and test whether these changes can be modified by rTMS.


Ben Shimon M*, Lenz M*, Ikenberg B, Becker D, Shavit Stein E, Chapmann J, Tanne D, Pick CG, Blatt I, Neufeld M, Vlachos A*, Maggio N*° (2015) Thrombin regulation of synaptic transmission and plasticity: implications for health and disease. Front Cel Neurosci. 9: 151.

Becker D, Deller T, Vlachos A° (2015) Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-receptor 1 and 2 mediate homeostatic synaptic plasticity of denervated mouse dentate granule cells. Sci Rep. 5: 12726.

Strehl A, Lenz M, Itsekson-Hayosh Z, Becker D, Chapman J, Deller T, Maggio N, Vlachos A° (2014) Systemic inflammation is associated with a reduction in Synaptopodin expression in the mouse hippocampus. Exp Neurol. 261: 230-235.

Becker D, Zahn D, Deller T, Vlachos A° (2013) Tumor necrosis factor alpha maintains denervation-induced homeostatic synaptic plasticity of mouse dentate granule cells. Front Cell Neurosci. 7: 257.

Non-invasive Brain Stimulation

In 1985, Anthony Barker and colleagues developed the first TMS device. Based on the physical principle of electromagnetic induction, TMS uses short (~500µs) and strong (>1Tesla) magnetic pulses to activate cortical neurons through the intact skin and skull. If applied at higher frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) induces changes in cortical excitability, which outlast the period of stimulation. This observation has led to its clinical application in various neurological and psychiatric conditions, e.g. treatment of depression or post-stroke rehabilitation. However, despite its clinical use the cellular and molecular mechanisms of rTMS-based therapies remain not well understood. We employ molecular, structural and functional techniques to assess the effects of rTMS on healthy and diseased brain tissue.


Lenz M, Galanis C, Müller-Dahlhaus F, Opitz A, Wierenga CJ, Ziemann U, Deller T, Funke K, Vlachos A° (2016) Repetitive magnetic stimulation induces plasticity of inhibitory synapses. Nat Commun. 7: 10020.

Lenz M, Platschek S, Priesemann V, Becker D, Willems LM, Ziemann U, Deller T, Müller-Dahlhaus F, Jedlicka P, Vlachos A° (2015) Repetitive magnetic stimulation induces plasticity of excitatory postsynapses on proximal dendrites of cultured mouse CA1 pyramidal neurons. Brain Struct Funct. 220: 3323-3337.

Müller-Dahlhaus F, Vlachos A° (2013) Unrevaling the cellular and molecular mechanisms of repetitive magnetic stimulation. Front Mol Neurosci. 6: 50.

Vlachos A*°, Müller-Dahlhaus F*°, Rosskopp J, Lenz M, Ziemann U, Deller T (2012) Repetitive magnetic stimulation induces functional and structural plasticity of excitatory postsynapses in mouse organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. J Neurosci. 32: 17514-17523.

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