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Our teams

Dr. Lucia Mastrototaro

Dr. Lucia Mastrototaro
Image Credit: Dr. Manfred Sommerer

Head of Group:

Dr. Lucia Mastrototaro PhD
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 61847

eMail: lucia.mastrototaro@fu-berlin.de


Amino acids (AA) are organic compounds necessary for protein synthesis and other biochemical reactions. Of the 20 proteinogen AA, nine are essential AA that cannot be synthesized by the body and need to be taken up with the diet. Methionine (Met) is one example of these essential AA in humans and other vertebrates. In livestock animals such as poultry, pigs and high yielding dairy cows, Met further represents a performance-limiting AA, meaning that optimum Met supplementation is crucial for optimum performance. Therefore, feed supplementation with different Met sources (L-Met, DL-Met and the hydroxy analogue DL-HMTBA) is widely applied in animal nutrition.

Our group uses integrative research approaches to study the absorption and metabolism of Met and other AA in livestock animals using feeding trials in living animals, as well as ex vivo and in vitro studies to identify the molecular and functional characteristics of AA transport and metabolism. The methodical spectrum is very wide including Ussing chambers for functional studies and cutting-edge molecular biology and biochemical techniques (e.g., western blot, real-time quantitative PCR, immunofluorescence microscopy, HPLC, and metabolomics).

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Salah Amasheh

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Salah Amasheh
Image Credit: privat

Head of Group:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Salah Amasheh
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 62602

eMail: salah.amasheh@fu-berlin.de


Tight junctions attach neighboring epithelial cells, providing the barrier function of epithelia. This barrier is a prerequisite for vectorial transport processes, and for the function of organs and tissues.

Tight junctions are organized in strands. Within these strands, a number of membrane proteins could be identified, which are responsible for sealing and for providing selective paracellular permeability in epithelia.

The working group “Epithelial Barrier Research” focuses on analyses of function and regulation of tight junctions in relation to organ physiology and pathophysiological processes.

In addition, clinically relevant aspects, as preventive sealing mechanisms or an intended opening of the tight junction for absorption enhancement (e.g. for drug targeting) are analyzed.

Tight Junctios

Schematic image of an epithelial monolayer.

Tight junctions encircle epithelial cells and attach them tightly to their neighbors. They are organized in strands and they are composed of an organ- and tissue-specific mosaic of membrane proteins, which selectively determine paracellular sealing and permeability (arrow), a: apical membrane (with microvilli), b: basolateral membrane.

PD Dr. Friederike Stumpff

PD Dr. Friederike Stumpff
Image Credit: Photostudio Charlottenburg.de

Head of Group:

PD Dr. Friederike Stumpff
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 62595
eMail: friederike.stumpff@fu-berlin.de


This group investigates transport mechanisms on the level of the tissue and the cell. The major focus of our work is the characterization of transport processes in the ruminal epithelium of cattle and sheep. More generally, we are also interested in analogous mechanisms in gastrointestinal epithelia of the pig.

Central to our current interests is the characterisation of ion channels that play a role in the absorption of fermentational products such as short chain fatty acid ions or ammonium. In this context we are particularly interested in the modulation of these channels by compounds contained in the diet or by phytogenic feed additives.

A number of different methods are used in these investigations, such as the patch clamp technique, ion-selective microelectrodes, Ussing chambers, the pH-stat technique, measurements with fluorescent dyes, immunohistochemistry, and molecular biological methods such as the overexpression of genes in cells.

Dr. Gerhard Sponder

Dr. Gerhard Sponder
Image Credit: Dr. Manfred Sommerer

Head of Group:

Dr. Gerhard Sponder
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 62593

eMail: gerhard.sponder@fu-berlin.de


Ionized magnesium (Mg²⁺) has important functions in cell, tissue, and organ physiology. The ion is a fundamental cofactor in processes such as nucleic acids and protein biosynthesis, energy generation (ATP production), cell proliferation, regulation of membrane stability and cellular signaling processes. Due to theses essential roles, cellular Mg²⁺ levels are tightly controlled and a multitude of active and passive transport systems are involved in its transport across biological membranes.
                                                
Our group has characterized the protein SLC41A1 as the main efflux system for Mg²⁺ in mammalian cells. The protein functions as Na⁺/Mg²⁺ exchanger and its action is important for fine-tuning the intracellular (cytoplasmic) magnesium homeostasis. Very recently we identified the closely related protein SLC41A3 as a potential mitochondrial Mg²⁺ efflux system.  
The main focus of our research is the in-depth investigation of the physiological relevance of these proteins for cellular magnesium homeostasis and to identify diseases that are directly or indirectly linked to a functional impairment of SLC41A1 and SLC41A3.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jörg R. Aschenbach

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jörg R. Aschenbach
Image Credit: privat

Head of Group:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jörg R. Aschenbach
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 62600

eMail: joerg.aschenbach@fu-berlin.de


The understanding of the metabilic adaptability of high-yielding dairy cows in different reproduction and lactation states requires a detailed assessment of the different regulatory planes of metabolic processes. Our research is focused on the elucidation and targeted dietary manipulation of such processes.

By using integrative research strategies, studies are executed on cell models (primarily bovine adipocyte cultures) and the living animal. Apart from various molecular biology methods such as transcriptomics (quantitative RT-PCR, oligonucleotide microarrays) and analysis of protein expression (Western Blots), we also apply a portfolio of different functional tests to assess the metabolic processes. Our major goal is the identification of molecular targets with high relevance for 'metabolic health' in critical production periods and their manipulation by natural feed ingredients.

To achieve this goal, we closely collaborate with the groups focusing on 'Magnesium Transport' and 'Phytogenic Substances'.

Dr. Ulrike Lodemann

Dr. Ulrike Lodemann
Image Credit: privat

Head of Group:

Dr. Ulrike Lodemann
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 62595

eMail: ulrike.lodemann@fu-berlin.de


Following the EU-wide prohibition of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal nutrition, interest has increased in alternatives such as probiotics and zinc as feed additives that enhance performance and health of farm animals.

In piglet rearing empirical studies have shown positive effects of such feed additives on performance, such as daily weight gain and feed conversion or a decrease in the incidence of diarrhea. However, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear.
The aim of our group is to analyze the effects of probiotics and zinc on epithelial transport properties and barrier integrity in the porcine gastrointestinal tract.

The effect of probiotics on barrier function of the intestine, the inflammatory response of the mucosa, and underlying signaling pathways are examined. In experiments with zinc, the secretory and absorptive capacity of intestinal epithelia will be analyzed along with an identification of signaling pathways mediating protective effects against infections.

Investigations are carried out using electrophysiological methods such as the Ussing chamber technique, cell culture, molecular biology and microbiological methods.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jörg Aschenbach

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jörg Aschenbach
Image Credit: privat

Head of Group:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jörg R. Aschenbach
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 62600

eMail: joerg.aschenbach@fu-berlin.de


Following the ban of antibiotics as growth promotors in 2006 in the EU, phytogenic substances have gained interest as potential modulators of inflammatory processes and oxidative stress. Concerns among consumers because of antiobitic residues and growing numbers of resistant bacteria have lead to an ongoing research for alternatives, such as phytogenic substances, during the last decade. Phytogenic substances are known to have antimicrobial activity and provide antioxidative and antiinflammatory effects, enhance palatability, improve gut functions and homeostasis and promote growth.

Our main goal is to screen for possible targets using cell culture models and Ussing chamber experiments to elucidate the underlying mechanisms and effects of phytogenic feed additives, and their most effective target locations within the digestive tract, in livestock diseases. Our group focuses on cytokine and protein expression analyses via quantitative RT-PCR and Western Blots / ELISA, immunohistochemistry and other molecular biological methods.

To gain a greater understanding of all aspects regarding the effects of phytogenic substances in livestock, we closely collaborate with the groups focusing on 'Magnesium Transport' and 'Metabolism of High-Yielding Dairy cows'.

Head of Group:

 

E-Learning / Information technology

PD Dr. Friederike Stumpff
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 62595

eMail:
friederike.stumpff@fu-berlin.de

PD Dr. Friederike Stumpff

 

Dr. Manfred Sommerer
Oertzenweg 19b, Hs. 11
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 838 62598

eMail:
manfred.sommerer@fu-berlin.de

Dr. Manfred Sommerer


The laboratory course in veterinary physiology helps students to gain a deeper understanding of the lecture topics and to enhance competency in the transfer of theoretical knowledge into practical application.  A further focus is to train students in the acquisition and evaluation of numerical parameters that allow an objective measurement of processes central to life. Numerous experiments on humans, tissues and other preparations allow students to consolidate these skills. Non-invasive investigations of physiological parameters serve as an opportunity to teach species-appropriate handling of living animals.  Some experiments take place in virtual environments, which are also accessible to students in preparation or repetition of course work at home on their own PC. Throughout, it is our goal to prepare students for a work environment in which skills in the computer-based acquisition and processing of data are taken for granted.

  • Virtual Physiology
    Virtual environment for experiments on physiological and pharmacological topics, as interactive and variable as in the "real" laboratory (free Demos, development: Dr. H. Braun, University of Marburg)

  • tet.folio in the physiological laboratory course (Co-project with the working group  Nordmeier – didactics of physics since 2014 in which the working group is significantly involved in improving the usability of the tool)
    With the help of a web-based,  platform independent learning environment, students can access various interactive objects. Pure out-put based E-learning is replaced by virtual and multimedial media that require active input by the student.