Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center


Voskuhl, Rhonda R., M.D.


Mechanisms in the immunopathogenesis of multiple sclerosis in humans using the animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis to develop novel therapies


  • Professor, Neurology


The Voskuhl laboratory is focused on understanding the immunopathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a murine model for MS. One area of investigation involves attempts to repair CNS lesions during EAE. Mice with a knock-out of given neurotrophic growth factors will be induced to have EAE to determine whether a given factor is beneficial or detrimental in disease. Subcutaneous administration of the same factors will confirm the above. Eventually they would like to deliver the growth factor of interest to the CNS using T lymphocytes transfected with the gene encoding the factor of interest.

A second area of investigation includes understanding why MS gets better during pregnancy. A reduction in pro- inflammatory immune responses happens naturally during pregnancy with this reduction in pro-inflammatory responses thought to be important in preventing fetal rejection. This reduction in pro-inflammatory responses during pregnancy may also be why autoimmune diseases such as MS and rheumatoid arthritis improve with pregnancy. Voskuhl’s laboratory initially showed that EAE, the mouse model of MS, improves during pregnancy. This model was then used to identify the hormone of pregnancy which was responsible for disease amelioration.


  1. Itoh, N, Itoh, Y, Meyer, CE, Suen, TT, Cortez-Delgado, D, Rivera Lomeli, M et al.. Estrogen receptor beta in astrocytes modulates cognitive function in mid-age female mice. Nat Commun. 2023;14 (1):6044. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-41723-7. PubMed PMID:37758709 PubMed Central PMC10533869.
  2. Meyer, CE, Smith, AW, Padilla-Requerey, AA, Farkhondeh, V, Itoh, N, Itoh, Y et al.. Neuroprotection in Cerebral Cortex Induced by the Pregnancy Hormone Estriol. Lab Invest. 2023;103 (8):100189. doi: 10.1016/j.labinv.2023.100189. PubMed PMID:37245852 .
  3. Voskuhl, RR, MacKenzie-Graham, A. Chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis is an excellent model to study neuroaxonal degeneration in multiple sclerosis. Front Mol Neurosci. 2022;15 :1024058. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2022.1024058. PubMed PMID:36340686 PubMed Central PMC9629273.
  4. Killestein, J, Schoonheim, MM, Voskuhl, RR. B-Cell Depletion and COVID-19 Severity in Multiple Sclerosis: Remaining Challenges. Neurology. 2021;97 (19):885-886. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000012754. PubMed PMID:34610986 .
  5. Voskuhl, RR, Patel, K, Paul, F, Gold, SM, Scheel, M, Kuchling, J et al.. Sex differences in brain atrophy in multiple sclerosis. Biol Sex Differ. 2020;11 (1):49. doi: 10.1186/s13293-020-00326-3. PubMed PMID:32859258 PubMed Central PMC7456053.
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