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Dr Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir PhD

Dr  Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir, PhD

Dorothy Hodgkin Royal Society Research Fellow

Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir is accepting applications for PhD students.

Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir is available for consultancy.

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 765860

Subject groups/Research projects


Departments and Institutes

Cambridge Neuroscience:

Research Interests

My research interests are neurotransmitter signalling to oligodendrocytes and their progenitor cells (a type of CNS stem cell), in both health and disease.kara.jpg

Oligodendrocytes wrap around axons in the CNS producing myelin, which speeds the propagation of the action potential. When the myelin sheath is lost, in diseases like cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, it causes mental and physical disability.

I use patch-clamping and imaging to study how oligodendrocytes respond to neurotransmitters released from axons, both in the normal brain and in pathological conditions. Using this approach, I have shown that NMDA receptors play a key role in causing the damage caused to myelin in disease states.

Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) comprise 5% of the cells in the adult brain, where they are the most proliferative cell present. They can generate both neurons and glial cells, making them an important stem cell population in the adult brain. I have shown that these cells fall into two classes, with distinct physiological properties.

My future work will focus on the role of oligodendrocyte neurotransmitter receptors and the two classes of OPC in normal myelination and in remyelination after injury.


  • Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs)
  • Remyelination
  • Myelination
  • Neurotransmitter receptors

Key Publications

  • Stacpoole S. R., Bilican B., Webber D. J., Luzhynskaya A., He X. L., Compston A., Karadottir R., Franklin R. J. and Chandran S. 2011. Efficient derivation of NPCs, spinal motor neurons and midbrain dopaminergic neurons from hESCs at 3% oxygen. Nat Protoc, 6: 1229-40. [PubMed].
  • Stacpoole S. R., Bilican B., Webber D. J., Luzhynskaya A., He X. L., Compston A., Karadottir R., Franklin R. J. and Chandran S. 2011. Derivation of neural precursor cells from human ES cells at 3% O(2) is efficient, enhances survival and presents no barrier to regional specification and functional differentiation. Cell Death Differ, 18: 1016-23. [PubMed].
  • Christ A. F., Franze K., Gautier H., Moshayedi P., Fawcett J., Franklin R. J., Karadottir R. T. and Guck J. 2010. Mechanical difference between white and gray matter in the rat cerebellum measured by scanning force microscopy. J Biomech, 43: 2986-92. [PubMed].
  • Bakiri, Y., D. Attwell and R. Karadottir (2009). Electrical signalling properties of oligodendrocyte precursor cells. Neuron Glia Biol: 1-9. [PubMed]
  • Káradóttir R, Bakiri Y, Hamilton N & Attwell D (2008). Spiking and non spiking classes of oligodendrocyte precursor glia in CNS white matter. Nature Neuroscience 11(4): 450-456. [PubMed]
  • Kolodziejczyk, K., N. B. Hamilton, A. Wade, R. Karadottir and D. Attwell (2009). The effect of N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate and N-acetyl-aspartate on white matter oligodendrocytes. Brain. 132(6):1496-508. [PubMed]
  • Bakiri Y, Burzomato V, Frugier G, Hamilton N, Káradóttir R & Attwell D (2008). Glutamatergic signalling in the brain's white matter. Neuroscience 58(1):266-74. [PubMed]
  • Bakiri Y, Hamilton N, Káradóttir R & Attwell D (2008). NMDA receptor block as a therapeutic strategy for reducing ischaemic damage to oligodendrocytes. Glia 56(2):233-40. [PubMed]
  • Káradóttir R & Attwell D (2007). Neurotransmitter receptors in the life and death of oligodendrocytes. Neuroscience 145(4): 1426-1438. [PubMed]
  • Káradóttir R & Attwell D (2006) Combining patch-clamping of cells in brain slices with immunocytochemical labelling to define cell type and developmental stage. Nature Protocols 1(4), 1977-1985. [PubMed]
  • Pattinson D, Baccei M, Káradóttir R, Torsney C, Moss A, McCutcheon J, Giese KP & Fitzgerald M (2006). Aberrant dendritic branching and sensory inputs in the superficial dorsal horn of mice lacking CaMKIIalpha autophosphorylation. Mol Cell Neurosci 33(1): 88-95. [PubMed]
  • Káradóttir R, Cavalier P, Bergersen LH & Attwell D (2005). NMDA receptors are expressed in oligodendrocytes and activated in ischaemia. Nature 438: 1162-1166. [PubMed]
  • Allen N*, Káradóttir R* & Attwell D (2005). A preferential role for glycolysis in preventing the anoxic depolarization of rat hippocampal area CA1 pyramidal cells. Journal of Neuroscience 25: 848-859. *Equal 1st author [PubMed]
  • Allen N, Káradóttir R & Attwell D (2004). Reversal or reduction of glutamate and GABA transport in CNS pathology and therapy. Pflugers Arch 449: 132-142. [PubMed]