Functional Anatomy of the autonomic nervous system
The focus here is on studies of innervation of the gastrointestinal tract. In studying the innervation of the esophagus are the enteric co-innervation of motor endplates (Team Wörl) and the IntraGanglionic Laminar Endings (IGLES; Team Raab) in the foreground. Recently, emerged from studies on the development of the motor innervation, developmental aspects of striated esophageal muscle were added (Team Wörl). The investigations are performed in rats and mice using immunocytochemistry, neuronal tracing, confocal laserscanning microscopy and electrophysiology (in collaboration with the Institute of Physiology and Experimental Pathophysiology).
In the enteric nervous system (Team Brehmer) itself is the aim, to develop a consistent morphological and chemical phenotyping of enteric neurons in larger mammalian species, particular in humans, which can serve as a basis for neurogastroenterologic histopathology. The core is the characterization of enteric neuron types mainly due to their represented by neurofilament immunohistochemistry geometry of dendrits and correlating chemical transmitter codes. Using neuronal tracing these specific types of neurons should be assigned to innervation areas in the intestinal wall. Recently, these studies have been extended to certain neurogastroenterologic pathologies (eg. M. Chagas).
The choroid of the eye contains a large number of intrinsic neurons whose anatomical context and function are still largely unknown. This intrinsic choroidal neurons are mainly characterized on the model of the avian eye by immunocytochemistry and neuronal tracing with respect to their morphological and chemical compounds (Team Schrödl, now Paracelsus-University Salzburg, Austria).
Neuro-immune modulation of internal Organs
The influence of inflammatory processes through the autonomic nervous system has been studied in collaboration with the Institute director of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the example of an experimentally induced hepatitis in mice. Currently the subject of neuro–immune modulation in the colon and kidney, in collaboration with research groups at the Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, and the Medical Clinics 1 and 4 is studied.
Cell biology of tumour supressor genes
The neurofibromatosis gene type 2 (NF-2) is a tumor suppressor gene whose loss leads to a tumor of the eighth cranial nerve, the auditory–neurinoma. Its gene product, the protein Merlin, was previously attributed to an essential function of the anchoring of the cytoskeleton at the cell membrane. However, splice variants could be found, which are also localized intracytoplasmic and intranuclear. The molecular mechanisms that determine the different sites are investigated with morphological and cell biology methods (Team Kressel).