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The neurobiology of stress

The neuroendocrine stress response is regulated by the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal system. The corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)-secreting neurons are located in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus which  integrate stress information from other areas of the central nervous system and are able to trigger the appropriate hormonal stress response. However, during stress, autonomic functions, metabolism, immune processes and behaviour are also altered. The aim of our research is to elucidate the regulatory mechanisms and neuronal networks that coordinate elements of the stress response and to reveal the role of neurons expressing CRH in stress integration outside of the hypothalamus.

Function and role of the gut microbiome-brain axis

Interface between the body and the environment are populated by a large number of microorganisms, which are called the microbiome. The substances produced by the microbiome, their specific metabolites, have a significant  influence on the host. The largest and most complex community of microorganisms in the body is the gut microbiome, which is made up of approximately 1015 microorganisms and is estimated to contain at least 1500-2000 different species. The composition of the microbiome is influenced by many factors, the way of birth, diet, antibiotic treatment, etc. Intake of live bacteria (probiotics), intake of specific bacterial nutrients (prebiotics) and their combination (symbiotics) may also influence of the gut microbiome.

Development of therapeutic bacteria


The aim of our research is to produce modified bacteria that can interfere with the synthesis of certain inflammatory cytokines or other inflammatory mediators in the mammalian host through trans-kingdom RNA interference. The model is that the modified bacteria encode specially designed small hairpin RNAs that are able to reduce inflammatory cytokine expression through RNA interference.