Helmut Kettenmann

Helmut Kettenmann

Ph.D, Professor, Principal investigator
Helmut Kettenmann´s research interests are focused on the role of glial cells in the normal and pathologic brain.
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The Kettenmann lab has been studying the functions of all the three major types of glial cells in the brain, the astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and microglial cells. One goal is to analyze how astrocytes and oligodendrocytes are connected via gap junctions to form a panglial network and how this network influences neuronal function in the white and in the grey matter. A major focus of the lab is on the role of microglial cells in the normal and in the pathologic brain. The Kettenmann team found that microglial cells can express classical neurotransmitter receptors formerly considered to be a hallmark of neurons. Activation of these receptors influences microglial functions. Within the context of pathology they are currently studying the importance of microglial cells in stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and psychiatric diseases. Another line of research addresses the question how microglia interact with glioma cells. They aim to understand this interaction on a molecular level with the goal to identify therapeutic targets.


2020 - present, Principal Investigator, The Brain Cognition and Brain Disease Institute of Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology

2020 - present, Department Head, The Department of  Neuroscience of  School of Life and Health Sciences at the University of Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology

2020 - present, Senior Professor at the Humboldt University Berlin (Charité)

2007 - present, Member of Academia Europaea

2003 - present, Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

2000 - present, Member of the DANA Alliance

1998 - present, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GLIA

1997 - 2020, Professor for Cellular Neurobiology at the Humboldt University Berlin (Charité)

1993 - present, Research group leader Cellular Neurosciences at the Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin

1992 -1995, Head of the project group Neurobiology, Department of Neurobiology, University of Heidelberg, funded by the German Ministry of Research and Technology

1982 -1987, University of Heidelberg, Habilitation/ Professorial qualification

1980 -1982, University of Heidelberg PhD Biology

1973 -1980, University of Heidelberg and University of Miami, Master in Biology

Selected publications

  1. Huang Y, Motta E, Nanvuma C, Kuhrt LD, Yang Yuan1, Xia P, Lubas M, Zhu S, Schnauss M, Qazi N,  Hu F, Zhang H, Lei T, Synowitz M, Flüh C, Kettenmann H (2022) Microglia/macrophage derived human CCL18 promotes glioma progression via CCR8-ACP5 axis analyzed in a novel humanized slice model, Cell Reports, 39: 110670.
  2. Logiacco F;Pengfei Xia R Georgiev SV Franconi C, Chang YJ, Ugursu B, Sporbert A, Kuhn R, Kettenmann H* and Semtner M# (2021) Microglia sense neuronal activity via GABA in the early postnatal hippocampus, Cell Reports,37: 110128.
  3. Huang  Y, Zhang Q, Lubas M, Yuan Y Yalcin F, Efe IE, Xia R Motta E, Buonfiglioli A, Lehnardt S, Dzaye O, Flueh C, Synowitz M, Hu F, Kettenmann H (2020) Synergistic Tbll-like Receptor 3/9 Signaling Affects Properties and Impairs Glioma-Promoting Activity of Microglia . J Neurosci 12;40:6428-6443.
  4. Elmadany N*, de Almeida Sassi F*, Wendt S, Logiacco F, Visser J, Haage VC, Hambardzumyan D, Wolf S, Kettenmann H*, Semtner M* (2020) The VGF-derived peptide TLQP21 impairs purinergic control of chemotaxis and phagocytosis in mouse microglia. J Neurosci. 14:1458-19., * equal contribution
  5. Sierra A, Paolicelli RC, Kettenmann H (2019) Cien Anos de Microglia: Milestones in a Century of Microglial Research, Trends in Neuroscience 42:778-792.
  6. Gutmann DH, Kettenmann H (2019) Microglia/ Brain Macrophages as Central Drivers of Brain Tumor Pathobiology, Neuron. 104:442-449.
  7. Meyer N, Richter N, Fan Z, Siemonsmeier G, Pivneva T, Jordan FJ Steinhauser C, Semtner M, Nolte C, Kettenmann H (2018) Oligodendrocytes in the Mouse Corpus Callosum Maintain Axonal Function by Delivery of Glucose. Cell Rep. 2018 22:2383-2394.
  8. Wolf SA, Boddeke HW, Kettenmann H. (2017) Microglia in Physiology and Disease. Annu Rev Physiol. 79:619-643.
  9. Kettenmann H., Kirchhoff F. Verkhratsky A. (2013) Microglia: New roles for the synaptic stripper. Neuron 77:10-18.
  10. Hanisch U. K., Kettenmann H (2007) Microglia - active sensor and versatile effector cells in the normal and pathologic brain, Nat. Neurosci. 10: 1387-1394