Jonathan Kipnis


  • BS, Tel Aviv
  • MS, Weizmann Institute of Science
  • PhD, Weizmann Institute of Science

Primary Appointment

  • Professor, Neuroscience


Research Interest(s)

Neuroimmunology and glia biology in cognition, neurodevelopment and neurodegenration

Research Description

Neuroimmune interactions and the role for glia cells in brain function, development and diseases: understanding basic mechanisms and development of therapeutic vaccines

We are interested in the role of immune system and glial cells, particularly microglia, in the following conditions:

CNS injury and neurodegenerative diseases - neuronal regeneration, neuroprotection, and neurogenesis.

Models: spinal cord injury, optic nerve injury, brain injury, glaucoma, Alzheimer's Disease.

Cognitive disorders and Neurodevelopmental disorders.

Models: Autism spectrum disorder, Rett syndrome, Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease.

Mental disorders.

Models: Schizophrenia, Depression.

In our lab we are working on the interaction of the immune and nervous systems. Up until recently, scientists assumed that the presence of immune system in the central nervous system (CNS) was a hallmark for undergoing pathological processes. However, a new line of evidence supports the notion that immune assistance is required for a better neuronal survival following injury. Microglia, the brain's resident macrophages, are playing a major role in brain disorders. Interestingly, microglia are the only cells in the brain that can be feasible replaced (even in patients) and thus represent an exceptional therapeutic target for genetic CNS disorders.

Moreover, we found that animals that lack the population of T lymphocytes (T cells) cannot perform cognitive tasks as well as normal animals do and are impaired in adult neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity. On the other hand, boost of immune response (vaccine) improves learning abilities in normal animals and accelerates neurogenesis.

We are trying to elucidate on cellular and molecular levels the mechanism underlying these beneficial effects of immune cells on healthy and diseased brain.

Selected Publications

  • Cronk J, Kipnis J. Microglia - the brain's busy bees. F1000prime reports. 2014;5 53. PMID: 24381729 | PMCID: PMC3854698
  • Derecki N, Katzmarski N, Kipnis J, Meyer-Luehmann M. Microglia as a critical player in both developmental and late-life CNS pathologies. Acta neuropathologica. 2014;128(3): 333-45. PMID: 25056803 | PMCID: PMC4131160
  • Filiano A, Gadani S, Kipnis J. Interactions of innate and adaptive immunity in brain development and function. Brain research. 2014. PMID: 25110235
  • Walsh J, Watson N, Kipnis J. T cells in the central nervous system: messengers of destruction or purveyors of protection? Immunology. 2014;141(3): 340-4. PMID: 24708415 | PMCID: PMC3930372
  • Derecki N, Kipnis J. From neurons to microglia, with complements. Nature neuroscience. 2013;16(12): 1712-3. PMID: 24270269
  • Radjavi A, Smirnov I, Derecki N, Kipnis J. Dynamics of the meningeal CD4(+) T-cell repertoire are defined by the cervical lymph nodes and facilitate cognitive task performance in mice. Molecular psychiatry. 2013. PMID: 23752249 | PMCID: PMC3773254
  • Radjavi A, Smirnov I, Kipnis J. Brain antigen-reactive CD4+ T cells are sufficient to support learning behavior in mice with limited T cell repertoire. Brain, behavior, and immunity. 2013;35 58-63. PMID: 24012647 | PMCID: PMC3858511
  • Derecki N, Cronk J, Kipnis J. The role of microglia in brain maintenance: implications for Rett syndrome. Trends in immunology. 2012;34(3): 144-50. PMID: 23122051 | PMCID: PMC3566274
  • Derecki N, Cronk J, Lu Z, Xu E, Abbott S, Guyenet P, Kipnis J. Wild-type microglia arrest pathology in a mouse model of Rett syndrome. Nature. 2012;484(7392): 105-9. PMID: 22425995 | PMCID: PMC3321067
  • Lu Z, Elliott M, Chen Y, Walsh J, Klibanov A, Ravichandran K, Kipnis J. Phagocytic activity of neuronal progenitors regulates adult neurogenesis. Nature cell biology. 2011;13(9): 1076-83. PMID: 21804544 | PMCID: PMC3374401
  • Derecki N, Cardani A, Yang C, Quinnies K, Crihfield A, Lynch K, Kipnis J. Regulation of learning and memory by meningeal immunity: a key role for IL-4. The Journal of experimental medicine. 2010;207(5): 1067-80. PMID: 20439540 | PMCID: PMC2867291
  • Derecki N, Privman E, Kipnis J. Rett syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders--brain diseases of immune malfunction? Molecular psychiatry. 2010;15(4): 355-63. PMID: 20177406 | PMCID: PMC3368984
  • Lu Z, Kipnis J. Thrombospondin 1--a key astrocyte-derived neurogenic factor. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 2010;24(6): 1925-34. PMID: 20124433 | PMCID: PMC3231793