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Department VUmc:Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology
Position:Assistant Professor


Jack van Horssen 

Name            :  Jack van Horssen
Department  : Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology
Position        : Assistant Professor

Personal details
Title(s), initial(s), first name, surname: Jack van Horssen, PhD
Male/female: Male
Date and place of birth:   07-07-1976
Nationality: Dutch

University: Radboud University Nijmegen
Date: 01-09-1999
Main subject: Biomedical Sciences

University/College of Higher Education: Radboud University Nijmegen
Date: 04-03-2005
Supervisors: Dr. M.M. Verbeek, Dr. R.M. de Waal, Prof. Dr. D.J. Ruiter
Title of thesis: Heparan sulfate proteoglycans and vascular pathology in Alzheimer’s disease  

Work experience since graduating

  • Nov 2003 - June 2010: Post-doctoral fellow. Department Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, VU Medical Center Amsterdam.
  • June 2010 - present: Assistant Professor, tenured. Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam.
  • Jan 2012 - present: Visiting Professor (0.15 fte). Hasselt University, Biomedical Research Institute, School of Life Sciences, Diepenbeek, Belgium.

Brief outline of research lines

My research line is focused on the identification of molecular pathways underlying impaired mitochondrial metabolism and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in multiple sclerosis (MS) and to examine the potential of antioxidant protection to counteract oxidative stress and improve mitochondrial function. The approach we use is to assemble information obtained from neuropathological examination of MS brain tissue and translate these findings into an experimental setting using a variety of molecular and in vitro techniques to study molecular pathways involved in excessive ROS formation and mitochondrial dysfunction in MS pathology. Moreover, we investigate the potential therapeutic effects of antioxidant strategies to counteract oxidative injury and associated cellular damage for which I received the MS Research Fellowship in 2010. The observation that oxidative damage is widespread in MS lesions suggests that during neuroinflammation the antioxidant response may be insufficient to reduce ROS-induced cellular injury. Hence, increasing the levels of endogenous antioxidants represents an attractive approach to counteract oxidative stress and ROS-mediated cellular injury in MS. Indeed, our recent data indicate that the induction of antioxidant enzyme production protect CNS cells from ROS-induced cell death and limits MS-associated pathology. Our approach, varying from analysis of MS brain tissue to in vitro models and experimental animal models, will enhance our understanding of processes involved in free radical formation and detoxification and may ultimately lead to the identification of novel targets for future treatment strategies in MS.


  • Maarten Witte, MSc: PhD student working on mitochondrial dysfunction in MS
  • Philip Nijland, MSc: PhD student working on the role of impaired mitochondrial function in neurodegeneration in MS
  • Jamie Lim, MSc: PhD Student working on the involvement of reactive oxygen species in MS
  • Anna Carrano, MSc: PhD student working on the pathogenesis of capillary CAA
  • Joost Drexhage, BSc and Susanne van der Pol, BSc: Research technicians

Key papers:

  1. H. Lassmann and J. van Horssen. The Molecular Basis of Neurodegeneration in Multiple Sclerosis. FEBS Letters 2011.
  2. J. van Horssen, J. Drexhage, T. Flor, W. Gerritsen, P. van der Valk, H.E. de Vries. Nrf2 and DJ1 are consistently upregulated in inflammatory multiple sclerosis lesions. Free Radic Biol Med. 2010.
  3. J.van Horssen, M.E. Witte, G. Schreibelt, H.E. de Vries. Radical changes in neuroinflammation. BBA - Molecular Basis of Disease, 2010.
  4. M.E. Witte, J.J. Geurts, H.E. de Vries, P. van der Valk, J. van Horssen. Mitochondrial dysfunction: a potential link between neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration? Mitochondrion, 2010.
  5. M.E. Witte, L. Bo, R. Rodenburg, J.A. Belien, R. Musters, T. Hazes, L. Wintjes, J.A. Smeitink, J.Geurts, H.E de Vries, P. van der Valk, J. van Horssen. Enhanced number and activity of mitochondria in multiple sclerosis lesions. J.Pathol. 2009.
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