Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology


Research: Pharmacological targeting of the dysfunctional brain plasticity



Alterations in the brain plasticity due to neuro-inflammation have been associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and current theories suggest that the dysfunctions in the brain plastisity have a major impact in the development of these diseases. Our goal is better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of dysfunctional brain plasticity and discover new treatment possibilities to combat neuropsychiatric disorders.


Research topics

  • The roles of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) and its polysialylated form PSA-NCA in the regulation of the brain plasticity.
  • The impact of neuroinflammation in the formation of dysfunctional brain plasticity.
  • The pharmacological targeting of the dysfunctional brain plasticity with NCAM-mimetics, metalloprotease inhibitors and active vitamin D analogues using cellular and animal models of the dysfunctional brain plasticity.



  • Professor Aleksandr Žarkovski
  • Associate Professor Külli Jaako 
  • Research Fellow Monika Jürgenson 
  • Research Fellow Kaili Anier 
  • PhD student/Junior Research Fellow Kelli Somelar 



  • Jaako, K. et al. (2016) Prolyl endopeptidase is involved in the degradation of neural cell adhesion molecules in vitro. J. Cell Sci, 129 (20), 3792−3802.
  • Lobanovskaya, N. et al  (2019). A role of PSA-NCAM in the survival of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) after kainic acid damage. Neurotoxicology, 72, 101−106.
  • Jürgenson, M. et al., (2019). Effects of the drug combination memantine and melatonin on impaired memory and brain neuronal deficits in an amyloid‐predominant mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. J Pharm Pharmacol, 71, 1695−1705.
  • Kröcher, T. et al., (2015). Schizophrenia-like phenotype of polysialyltransferase ST8SIA2-deficient mice. Brain Structure and Function, 220 (1), 1863−2653.
  • Aonurm-Helm A. et al., (2016). Pharmacological approach for targeting dysfunctional brain plasticity: Focus on neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM). Pharmacol. Res.113 (part B), 731−738.
#research #for society

Doctoral defence: Anni Lepland “Precision targeting of tumour-associated macrophages in triple negative breast cancer”

On 8 June at 12.00 Anni Lepland will defend her doctoral thesis "Precision targeting of tumour-associated macrophages in triple negative breast cancer".

Research project DURABLE

Research project DURABLE
#research #for society #about the faculty
Meditsiiniteaduste vadkond

Call for abstracts: scientific conference celebrating the anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine