Marie-Gabrielle Zurich Fontanellaz group

The nervous system is a frequent target for the adverse effects of environmental chemicals, including industrial compounds and drugs, and many of these chemicals have been shown to induce neuroinflammation. Evidence is accumulating that neuroinflammation, characterised by the reactivity of both astrocytes and microglial cells, is involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. Metabolic adaptations have been shown in reactive astrocytes and microglial cells. Furthermore, astrocytic metabolic and inflammatory changes have been recently reported as a function of age, leading to the hypothesis that mitochondrial metabolism and inflammatory responses are interconnected and promote the functional switch of astrocytes, from neurotrophic to neurotoxic.

Our laboratory focuses on two major goals:

  • The study of the inflammatory processes triggered by neurotoxic compounds and leading to neurodegeneration.
  • The identification of reliable toxicity biomarkers and fundamental cellular pathways targeted by neurotoxins, focusing in particular on metabolic changes occurring during neuroinflammatory processes.

For this purpose, we developed a rat three-dimensionnal cell culture system containing all brain cell types and we are currently developing similar human models starting from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) or human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC).


Marie-Gabrielle Zurich

Group leader

+41 21 692 55 42

Rue du Bugnon 7 - CH-1005 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 55 00
Fax +41 21 692 55 05