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Letten Centre
Research Goals

In addition to the 85 billion neurons in the brain, we find at least as many glial cells. The research focus of GliaLab is to discover physiological roles of a subtype of glial cells called astrocytes, in the awake-behaving and sleeping brain as well as identifying roles of astrocytes in brain disorders. Astrocytes serve a wide array of functions in the brain. On the one hand, they are caretakers of the brain by controlling the composition of the extracellular fluids. In particular they are key for removing excess neurotransmitter and K+ in relation to neuronal activity. Moreover, they display a rich repertoire of cellular signaling, that likely enable them to more direcly interact with neurons.

Our main research interests are as follows:

What are the roles of astrocytic Ca2+ signals in sleep and brain state changes?

Since the discovery that astrocytes can react with and communicate by local or spreading Ca2+ elevations, a range of different mechanisms have been linked to these signals. For instance, such signals have been proposed to influence neuronal network activity by release of transmitter substances in, or close by, synapses. Similarly, astrocytic Ca2+ signals have been proposed to influence vascular tone. Currently, we're trying to outline the role of astroglial Ca2+ signals in brain/sleep state changes and in memory encoding and consolidation.

How does the extracellular fluid circulate in the brain parenchyma?

In 2013 a seminal paper described extracellular fluid may circulate from the perivascular spaces of artieries, through the parenchyma, before exiting the brain, taking waste products with it. This circulation system, or 'brain washing' system, was coined the 'glymphatic system', and was proposed to play a role in Alzheimer's disease pathophysiology. To answer these questions we work with advanced imaging techniques. Most importantly, two-photon microscopy in awake head-fixed mice, in combination with electrophysiology and molecular strategies.

What are the astrocytic mechanisms involved in cortical spreading depression (CSD) and epilepsy?

CSD is the phenomenon underlying the perceptual disturbances of the migraine aura, and although first discovered over 70 years ago, key aspects of these events are still unknown. We are currently trying to identify the roles of astrocytes in CSD. We are also investigating putative roles of astrocytes in seizure propagation and in epileptogenesis.


Rune Enger
Principal Investigator
Rune Enger, MD, PhD
Associate Professor in Medicine,
Institute of Basic Medical Sciences,
University of Oslo

Researcher,Department of Neurosurgery,
Oslo University Hospital

  • 2011, University of Oslo
  • PhD 2016, Oslo University Hospital/University of Oslo
  • Postdoc 2016-2019 Oslo University Hospital
  • Laura Bojarskaite
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Laura Bojarskaite, PhD
  • BSc in Biochemistry, Vilnius University
  • MSc Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen
  • PhD 2020, Oslo University Hospital, University of Oslo
  • Luca Bordoni
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Luca Bordoni, PhD
  • PhD 2019, Aarhus University
  • 2020-2021: Postdoc Aarhus University, Laboratory of Renal Cell Remodelling
  • Didrik Dukefoss
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Didrik B. Dukefoss, MD, PhD
  •, University of Oslo
  • PhD 2022, University of Oslo
  • Aree Witoelar
    Aree Witoelar, PhD
  • PhD 2010, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
  • Postdoc 2010-2014, Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Trondheim, Norway
  • Postdoc 2014-2018, University of Oslo
  • Researcher, 2018-current, University of Oslo
  • Cecilie G. Nome
    PhD Student
    Cecilie G. Nome, MD
  • Bachelor degree in nutrition 2012, University of Oslo
  • 2018, University of Oslo
  • Vegard Broen
    PhD Student
    Vegard Broen, MD
  • MSc, NTNU
  • Cecilie B. Bakketun
    PhD Student
    Cecilie B. Bakketun, MD
  • 2016, University of Oslo
  • Alexander Brana Rosic
    PhD Student
    Alexander Brana Rosic, MD
  •, University of Oslo
  • Lena Roth
    Lab Engineer
    Lena Roth, PhD
  • PhD 2013, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg
  • 2013-2014: Postdoc, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg
  • 2016-2019: Postdoc, University of Oslo
  • Vidar Jensen
    Lab Engineer (affiliated)
    Vidar Jensen, PhD
  • MSc 1992, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo
  • PhD (Dr.Philos) 1999, University of Oslo
  • 1999-2002: Postdoc, University of Oslo
  • 2002-2022: Researcher, University of Oslo
  • 2022-present: Senior Engineer, Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Oslo
  • Kristin Maria Gullestad Binder
    MD-PhD student
    Kristin Maria Gullestad Binder
  • University of Oslo
  • Camilla Ellingsen Hushovd-Richard
    MD-PhD student
    Camilla Ellingsen Hushovd-Richard
  • University of Oslo
  • Publications

    Role of aquaporin-4 polarization in extracellular solute clearance – 2024 Fluids and Barriers of the CNS
    Bojarskaite L, Nafari S, Ravnanger A.K., Frey M.M., Skauli N., Åbjørsbråten K.S., Roth L.C., Amiry-Moghaddam M., Nagelhus E.A., Ottersen O..P., Bogen I.L., Thoren A.E., Enger R. In press.
    Astrocytes as critical players of the fine balance between inhibition and excitation in the brain: spreading depolarization as a mechanism to curb epileptic activity – 2024 Frontiers in Network Physiology 4
    Enger R.,Heuser K.
    BubbleDrive, a low-volume incubation chamber for acute brain slices – 2024 Scientific Reports 13:20005
    Naik A., Jensen V., Bakketun C.B., Enger R., Hrabetova S, Hrabe J.
    Deletion of aquaporin-4 improves capillary blood flow distribution in brain edema – 2023 Glia Early View
    Bordoni L., Thoren A.E., Gutiérrez-Jiménez E., Åbjørsbråten K.S., Bjørnstad D.M., Tang W., Stern M., Østergaard L., Nagelhus E.A., Frische S., Ottersen O.P., Enger R.
    Sleep cycle-dependent vascular dynamics enhance perivascular cerebrospinal fluid flow and solute transport – 2023 Nature Communications 14:953
    Bojarskaite L.*, Vallet A.*, Bjørnstad D.M.*, Binder K.M.G., Cunen C., Heuser K., Kuchta M., Mardal K.A., Enger R.
    *Contributed equally
    Impaired astrocytic Ca2+ signalling in awake Alzheimer's disease transgenic mice – 2022 eLife 11, e75055
    Åbjørsbråten K.S.*, Skaaraas G.H.S.*, Cunen C., Bjørnstad D.M., Binder, K.M.G., Jensen V., Nilsson, L.N.G., Rao S.B., Tang W., Hermansen G.H., Nagelhus E.A., Ottersen O.P., Torp R., Enger, R.
    *Contributed equally
    Validating a computational framework for ionic electrodiffusion with cortical spreading depression as a case study – 2022 Eneuro 9(2)
    Ellingsrud A.J., Dukefoss D.B., Enger R., Halnes G., Pettersen K.H., Rognes M.E.
    Begonia—A Two-Photon Imaging Analysis Pipeline for Astrocytic Ca2+ Signals 2021 – Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 15:176
    Bjørnstad, D.M.*, Åbjørsbråten, K.S.*, Hennestad, E., Cunen, C., Hermansen G.H.H., Bojarskaite L., Pettersen K.H., Vervaeke K., Enger R.
    *Contributed equally
    Astrocytic Ca2+ Signaling in Epilepsy – 2021 Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 15
    Heuser, K., & Enger, R.
    RippleNet: A recurrent neural network for sharp wave ripple (SPW-R) detection – 2020 Neuroinformatics, 1-22
    Hagen E., Chambers A.R., Einevoll G.T., Pettersen K.H., Enger R., Stasik A.
    Increased occurrence of pathological mitochondria in astrocytic perivascular endfoot processes and neurons of idiopathic intracranial hypertension – 2020 Journal of Neuroscience Research 99(2), 467-480
    Eide P.K., Hasan‐Olive M.M., Hansson H.A., Enger R.
    Astrocytic Ca2+ signaling is reduced during sleep and involved in the regulation of slow wave sleep – 2020 Nature Communications 11:3240
    Bojarskaite L.*, Bjørnstad, D.M.*, Pettersen K.H., Cunen C., Hermansen G.H., Åbjørsbråten K.S., Chambers A.R., Sprengel R., Vervaeke K., Tang W., Enger R.§, Nagelhus E.A.§
    *Contributed equally. §Enger and Nagelhus jointly supervised this work.
    Aquaporin‐4‐independent volume dynamics of astroglial endfeet during cortical spreading depression – 2019 Glia 67(6):1113–1121.
    Rosic B.*, Dukefoss D.B.*, Tang W., Jensen V., Ottersen O.P., Enger R.§, Nagelhus E.A.§
    *Contributed equally §Corresponding authors


    Work in GliaLab?

    We are always interested in meeting dedicated people, so please contact if you would like to learn more about the research and life in GliaLab. We will be hiring both postdocs and PhD students soon, please contact for information.

    Contact: rune.enger (at)

    Contact: rune.enger (at)

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