Neuromuscular disorders

Research project
Active research
Project owner
Institute of Biomedicine

Short description

Anders Oldfors' research group is focused on muscle diseases. This is a large group of different diseases, which cause muscle weakness as the main symptom. The diseases may start at infancy or in adulthood and cause in many cases severe muscle impairment. The aims of our research are to identify the cause of disease and the genetic background in cases of hereditary muscle diseases. We combine clinical investigations with microscopic studies on biopsies of the affected tissue, the muscle, to get clues to the correct diagnosis. By further analyses including a wide spectrum of methods we can understand the disease mechanisms and identify new diseases.

We study etiology and pathogenesis of neuromuscular diseases. Many of these diseases affect skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle, causing muscle weakness and/or cardiomyopathy. We focus on diseases associated with impaired energy metabolism including mitochondrial and glycogen metabolism and diseases associated with defective structure and function of the contractile unit of muscle, the sarcomere and also inflammatory myopathies.

Mitochondrial diseases are caused by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or nuclear gene mutations with impaired oxidative phosphorylation. One subgroup of these diseases is caused by nuclear gene mutations affecting the mitochondrial DNA maintenance with secondary mtDNA mutations or mtDNA deficiency. Glycogen disorders include diseases with glycogen storage or deficiency causing energy crisis in the muscle cells. Diseases of the sarcomere are a group of myopathies caused by mutations in genes encoding sarcomere proteins, which result in defective structure the muscle contractile apparatus. Inflammatory myopathies are disorders, in which destruction of the muscle tissue is caused by autoimmune mechanisms. In this context we are especially interested in one entity: inclusion body myositis.

Our research combines clinical investigations with morphologic, genetic, molecular-biological, and biochemical studies using biopsy specimens and cultured cells. 
We have over many years collected a large and well-defined patient material, including muscle and heart biopsy specimens, which together with material from extensive international collaboration forms the basis for our studies on novel diseases and their pathogenesis. Our results will help to understand the basic mechanisms underlying these disorders, which is necessary for correct diagnosis, genetic counseling and treatment.

Group members

Anders Oldfors
Carola Hedberg-Oldfors
Christer Thomsen
Kittichate Visuttijai
Ulrika Lindgren
Brith Leidvik
Mitra Haghight
Nahid Hosseini