Doctor Erika Gyengesi

Doctor Erika Gyengesi

Senior Lecturer, Pharmacology,
School of Medicine


Dr Gyengesi was awarded her PhD in 2010 from the Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary, conducting research in the lab of Prof Laszlo Detari. During her PhD she developed and assembled an in vivo electrophysiology set-up for juxtacellular labelling of individual neurons in anaesthetized animals and used this technique to label and immunohistochemically identify neurons in the basal forebrain that are correlated with the EEG activity in the neocortex. During her graduate studies, she collaborated with Dr. Laszlo Zaborszky at the Centre of Molecular and Behavioural Neuroscience, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, spending a year and a half as a research assistant in his lab. During that time she investigated the anatomical connections between the basal forebrain and the medial prefrontal cortex. 

In 2007, she became a postdoctoral research associate in the laboratory of Dr. Sabrina Diano at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Reproductive Sciences. There, she studied the effect of metabolic changes on synaptic input organization of NPY/AgRP POMC/CART containing neurons in mice hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is closely connected with the basal forebrain and shares some general functions in regulation of sleep. She introduced new techniques (including mitochondria isolation from brain tissue, membrane potential measurements, reactive oxygen species production measurements) to Dr Diano’s lab after learning these new methods on a research trip to the laboratory of Dr Roger F. Castilho at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, in Campinas, Brazil.  Results of this work were published in two high impact factor journals.

In 2010 she accepted the opportunity as a postdoctoral research officer in the laboratory of Dr. George Paxinos at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).  She was involved in two major anatomical mapping projects, one of which is creating a stereotaxic atlas of the marmoset brain, and the other a collaboration with the Brain Research Institute (BRI), Melbourne to map the myelin system of the mouse brain in relation to high resolution MRI.

At the end of 2012, she joined the lab of Prof Gerald Muench, at the University of Western Sydney, joining the School of Medicine first as a full time research officer for the Pharmacology group, later appointed as an associate lecturer, then promoted to lecturer in 2016. Her work at UWS focuses on the effects of chronic neuroinflammation in the rodent brain, in particular, on the basal forebrain cholinergic system.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Gyengesi.


  • PhD Eotvos Lorand University

Professional Memberships

  • American Association of Anatomist (2014)
  • Australian Neuroscience Society (2010 - 2024)
  • Society of Neuroscience (2006 - 2016)


  • Basal forebrain cholinergic system
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Neuroscience

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • School of Medicine


Phone: (02) 4620 3723
Location: 30.2.25

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Chapters in Books

  • Bennett, L., Nigro, J., Bird, M., Gyengesi, E., Macaulay, L. and Muench, G. (2015), 'Chronic inflammation and innate immunity in Alzheimer's Disease : role of diet', Diet and Nutrition in Dementia and Cognitive Decline, Elsevier 9780124078246.
  • Zaborszky, L., Van del Pol, A. and Gyengesi, E. (2012), 'The basal forebrain cholinergic projection system in mice ', The Mouse Nervous System, Academic Press 9780123694973.

Journal Articles

  • Bowyer, D., Dietz, M., Jamison, A., Taylor, C., Gyengesi, E., Ross, J., Hammond, H., Ogbeide, A. and Dune, T. (2022), 'Academic mothers, professional identity and COVID-19 : feminist reflections on career cycles, progression and practice', Gender, Work and Organization, vol 29, no 1 , pp 309 - 341.
  • Asgarov, R., Sen, M., Mikhael, M., Karl, T., Gyengesi, E., Mahns, D., Malladi, C. and Muench, G. (2022), 'Characterisation of the mouse cerebellar proteome in the GFAP-IL6 model of chronic neuroinflammation', Cerebellum, vol 21, no 3 , pp 404 - 424.
  • Childs, R., Gamage, R., Muench, G. and Gyengesi, E. (2021), 'The effect of aging and chronic microglia activation on the morphology and numbers of the cerebellar Purkinje cells', Neuroscience Letters, vol 751 .
  • Chesworth, R., Gamage, R., Ullah, F., Sonego, S., Millington, C., Fernandez, A., Liang, H., Karl, T., Muench, G., Niedermayer, G. and Gyengesi, E. (2021), 'Spatial memory and microglia activation in a mouse model of chronic neuroinflammation and the anti-inflammatory effects of apigenin', Frontiers in Neuroscience, vol 15 .
  • Businaro, R., Vauzour, D., Sarris, J., Muench, G., Gyengesi, E., Brogelli, L. and Zuzarte, P. (2021), 'Therapeutic opportunities for food supplements in neurodegenerative disease and depression', Frontiers in Nutrition, vol 8 .
  • Ullah, F., Asgarov, R., Venigalla, M., Liang, H., Niedermayer, G., Muench, G. and Gyengesi, E. (2020), 'Effects of a solid lipid curcumin particle formulation on chronic activation of microglia and astroglia in the GFAP-IL6 mouse model', Scientific Reports, vol 10, no 1 .
  • Ullah, F., Liang, H., Niedermayer, G., Muench, G. and Gyengesi, E. (2020), 'Evaluation of phytosomal curcumin as an anti-inflammatory agent for chronic glial activation in the GFAP-IL6 mouse model', Frontiers in Neuroscience, vol 14 .
  • Gamage, R., Wagnon, I., Rossetti, I., Childs, R., Niedermayer, G., Chesworth, R. and Gyengesi, E. (2020), 'Cholinergic modulation of glial function during aging and chronic neuroinflammation', Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, vol 14 .
  • Gyengesi, E., Rangel, A., Ullah, F., Liang, H., Niedermayer, G., Asgarov, R., Venigalla, M., Gunawardena, D., Karl, T. and Muench, G. (2019), 'Chronic microglial activation in the GFAP-IL6 mouse contributes to age-dependent cerebellar volume loss and impairment in motor function', Frontiers in Neuroscience, vol 13 .
  • Sharman, M., Gyengesi, E., Liang, H., Chatterjee, P., Karl, T., Li, Q., Wenk, M., Halliwell, B., Martins, R. and Muench, G. (2019), 'Assessment of diets containing curcumin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, docosahexaenoic acid and a-lipoic acid on amyloid load and inflammation in a male transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease : are combinations more effective?', Neurobiology of Disease, vol 124 , pp 505 - 519.
  • Kekesi, O., Liang, H., Muench, G., Morley, J., Gyengesi, E. and Buskila, Y. (2019), 'The differential impact of acute microglia activation on the excitability of cholinergic neurons in the mouse medial septum', Brain Structure and Function, vol 224, no 7 , pp 2297 - 2309.
  • Sen, M., Almuslehi, M., Gyengesi, E., Myers, S., Shortland, P., Mahns, D. and Coorssen, J. (2019), 'Suppression of the peripheral immune system limits the central immune response following cuprizone-feeding : relevance to modelling Multiple Sclerosis', Cells, vol 8, no 11 .
  • Gyengesi, E., Liang, H., Millington, C., Sonego, S., Sirijovski, D., Gunawardena, D., Dhananjayan, K., Venigalla, M., Niedermayer, G. and Muench, G. (2018), 'Investigation into the effects of Tenilsetam on markers of neuroinflammation in GFAP-IL6 mice', Pharmaceutical Research, vol 35, no 1 .
  • Ullah, F., Liang, H., Rangel, A., Gyengesi, E., Niedermayer, G. and Muench, G. (2017), 'High bioavailability curcumin : an anti-inflammatory and neurosupportive bioactive nutrient for neurodegenerative diseases characterized by chronic neuroinflammation', Archives of Toxicology, vol 91, no 4 , pp 1623 - 1634.
  • Dhananjayan, K., Gunawardena, D., Hearn, N., Sonntag, T., Moran, C., Gyengesi, E., Srikanth, V. and Muench, G. (2017), 'Activation of macrophages and microglia by interferon-Y and lipopolysaccharide increases methylglyoxal production : a new mechanism in the development of vascular complications and cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes mellitus?', Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, vol 59, no 2 , pp 467 - 479.
  • Venigalla, M., Sonego, S., Gyengesi, E., Sharman, M. and Muench, G. (2016), 'Novel promising therapeutics against chronic neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease', Neurochemistry International, vol 95 , pp 63 - 74.
  • Gunawardena, D., Karunaweera, N., Lee, S., van der Kooy, F., Harman, D., Raju, R., Bennett, L., Gyengesi, E., Sucher, N. and Muench, G. (2015), 'Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon (C. zeylanicum and C. cassia) extracts - identification of e-cinnamaldehyde and o-methoxy cinnamaldehyde as the most potent bioactive compounds', Food and Function, vol 6, no 3 , pp 910 - 919.
  • Karunaweera, N., Raju, R., Gyengesi, E. and Muench, G. (2015), 'Plant polyphenols as inhibitors of NF-KB induced cytokine production : a potential anti-inflammatory treatment for Alzheimer's disease?', Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, vol 8 .
  • Venigalla, M., Sonego, S., Gyengesi, E. and Muench, G. (2015), 'Curcumin and apigenin : novel and promising therapeutics against chronic neuroinflammation in Alzheimer's disease', Neural Regeneration Research, vol 10, no 8 , pp 1181 - 1185.
  • Venigalla, M., Sonego, S., Gyengesi, E. and Muench, G. (2015), 'Curcumin and apigenin : novel and promising therapeutics against chronic neuroinflammation in Alzheimer's disease', Neural Regeneration Research, vol 10, no 8 , pp 1181 - 1185.
  • Gunawardena, D., Bennett, L., Shanmugam, K., King, K., Williams, R., Zabaras, D., Head, R., Ooi, L., Gyengesi, E. and Muench, G. (2014), 'Anti-inflammatory effects of five commercially available mushroom species determined in lipopolysaccharide and interferon-gamma activated murine macrophages', Food Chemistry, vol 148 , pp 92 - 96.
  • Gyengesi, E., Calabrese, E., Sherrier, M., Johnson, G., Paxinos, G. and Watson, C. (2014), 'Semi-automated 3D segmentation of major tracts in the rat brain : comparing DTI with standard histological methods', Brain Structure and Function, .
  • Williams, R., Muench, G., Gyengesi, E. and Bennett, L. (2014), 'Bacopa monnieri (L.) exerts anti-inflammatory effects on cells of the innate immune system in vitro', Food and Function, vol 5, no 3 , pp 517 - 520.
  • Millington, C., Sonego, S., Karunaweera, N., Rangel, A., Aldrich-Wright, J., Campbell, I., Gyengesi, E. and Muench, G. (2014), 'Chronic neuroinflammation in Alzheimer's disease : new perspectives on animal models and promising candidate drugs', BioMed Research International, vol 2014 .
  • Apetz, N., Muench, G., Govindaraghavan, S. and Gyengesi, E. (2014), 'Natural compounds and plant extracts as therapeutics against chronic inflammation in Alzheimer's disease - a translational perspective', CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets, vol 13, no 7 , pp 1175 - 1191.
  • Gyengesi, E., Andrews, Z., Paxinos, G. and Zaborszky, L. (2013), 'Distribution of secretagogin-containing neurons in the basal forebrain of mice, with special reference to the cholinergic corticopetal system', Brain Research Bulletin, vol 94 , pp 1 - 8.
  • Gyengesi, E., Paxinos, G. and Andrews, Z. (2012), 'Oxidative stress in the hypothalamus : the importance of calcium signaling and mitochondrial ROS in body weight regulation', Current Neuropharmacology, vol 10, no 4 , pp 344 - 353.
  • Calamante, F., Tournier, J., Kurniawan, N., Yang, Z., Gyengesi, E., Galloway, G., Reutens, D. and Connelly, A. (2012), 'Super-resolution track-density imaging studies of mouse brain : comparison to histology', NeuroImage, vol 59, no 1 , pp 286 - 296.
  • Diano, S., Liu, Z., Jeong, J., Dietrich, M., Ruan, H., Kim, E., Suyama, S., Kelly, K., Gyengesi, E., Arbiser, J., Belsham, D., Sarruf, D., Schwartz, M., Bennett, A., Shanabrough, M., Mobbs, C., Yang, X., Gao, X. and Horvath, T. (2011), 'Peroxisome proliferation-associated control of reactive oxygen species sets melanocortin tone and feeding in diet-induced obesity', Nature Medicine, vol 17, no 9 , pp 1121 - 1127.

Conference Papers

  • Liang, H., Sonego, S., Gyengesi, E., Rangel, A., Niedermayer, G., Karl, T. and Muench, G. (2017), 'Anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect of apigenin : studies in the GFAP-IL6 mouse model of chronic neuroinflammation', Oxygen Club of California. World Congress, Berlin, Germany.

Chronic neuroinflammation is one of the major contributor factors in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which is the most common form of dementia. This study will establish a mouse model of chronic neuroinflammation as a drug discovery tool for active anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective treatments in the central nervous system. In this novel mouse model interleukin-6 (IL-6) is over-expressed under the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) promoter only in the astrocytes in the brain.

GFAP-IL6 mice exhibit progressive loss of motor and cognitive function as a result of chronic neuroinflammation from 3-6 months of age, and therefore provide an exceptional model to investigate neurodegeneration and cognitive decline in a precise timely. This study will investigate the behavioural and anatomical changes caused by neuroinflammation in the GFAP-IL6 transgenic mice, compared to their wild type littermates and, we will test the potential of curcumin treatment, to slow down the degenerative process. 

Our current specific aims are:

1. To study the effects of chronic neuroinflammation on the deterioration of memory and cognition in the GFAP-IL-6 overexpressing mice during their lifespan. The changes of the brain structure will be also examined by high resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

2. To study the effects of neuroinflammation on the morphological structure of the basal forebrain cholinergic system and the interconnected areas using immunohistochemistry.

3. To investigate the effects of a high bioavailable preparation of the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin on brain inflammation, neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Gyengesi.

Current Projects

Title: Interactions between inflammation and tau on the basal forebrain cholinergic system - a new target for early diagnosis and treatment
  • Dementia Australia Research Foundation Ltd.
Western Researchers: Rose Chesworth Vieyra, Erika Gyengesi and Yossi Buskila
Years: 2022-02-01 - 2024-03-01
ID: P00027491
Title: The effect of highly bioavailable phytosomal curcumin preparation in a mouse model of chronic neuroinflammation: validation of TSPO [18F]PBR111 PET imaging as an in vivo neuroinflammatory marker [Ingrid Wagnon]
  • Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Ltd (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Erika Gyengesi
Years: 2020-01-01 - 2023-06-30
ID: P00026663
Title: In vivo evaluation of 'Meriva' curcumin phospholipid as anti-inflammatory drug in a mouse model of chronic neuroinflammation
  • Indena
Western Researchers: Gerald Muench, Erika Gyengesi and David Harman
Years: 2016-03-31 - 2025-09-18
ID: P00023016
Title: Neuroscience Research Into Ageing - PhD Scholarships
  • The Ainsworth Foundation
Western Researchers: Tara Roberts, Morven Cameron, Ritesh Raju, Vincent Ho and Erika Gyengesi
Years: 2021-10-01 - 2025-12-31
ID: P00027512
Title: Stream 2 - New insights into disease mechanisms
  • The Ainsworth Foundation
Western Researchers: Erika Gyengesi, Tara Roberts, Golo Ahlenstiel, Vincent Ho, Scott Read, Slade Jensen, Yossi Buskila, Ritesh Raju and Gerald Muench
Years: 2021-10-01 - 2025-12-31
ID: P00027634
Title: Evaluation of anti-inflammatories in restoring K+ homeostasis during neurodegeneration
  • Indena
Western Researchers: Yossi Buskila, Erika Gyengesi, Rose Chesworth Vieyra and Gerald Muench
Years: 2022-04-01 - 2025-04-01
ID: P00028081

Previous Projects

Title: Effects of chronic inflammation on the cholinergic neurodegeneration and its therapeutic prevention by using highly bioavailable curcumin, as an anti-inflammatory agent
  • University of Western Sydney
Western Researchers: Erika Gyengesi and Gerald Muench
Years: 2013-09-09 - 2015-01-09
ID: P00021743
Title: The role of chronic neuroinflammation in cognitive decline and neurodegeneration - an opportunity for therapeutic intervention
  • Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation Ltd
Western Researchers: Erika Gyengesi and Alejandra Rangel
Years: 2015-01-24 - 2015-12-31
ID: P00022400
Title: Functional and structural evaluation of the therapeutic potential of Meriva curcumin in the rodent brain early intervention for Alzheimers disease
  • Indena
Western Researchers: Erika Gyengesi and Yossi Buskila
Years: 2019-07-01 - 2023-01-05
ID: P00025854
Title: In vivo evaluation of the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activity of curcumin in a mouse model of chronic neuroinflammation
  • University of Western Sydney
  • Verdure Sciences Inc.
Western Researchers: Erika Gyengesi
Years: 2016-03-16 - 2020-09-30
ID: P00022925


Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Investigating the Effects of Chronic Low-Grade Neuroinflammation on Brain Structure and Function
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Chronic neuro-inflammation affects cognitive function and dendritic arborisation patterns and spine numbers of aging mice
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Investigation of anti-inflammatory treatment with a cytokine suppressive anti-inflammatory drug can ameliorate inflammation, neurodegeneration and cognitive decline
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: Plant Polyphenols as Inhibitors of NF-kB Induced Cytokine Production: A Potential Anti-Inflammatory Treatment for Alzheimer's
Field of Research: Other Health; Chemical Sciences; Chemical Sciences, N.e.c.
Thesis Title: The effects of chronic neuroinflammation on cognition and behaviour in the GFAP-IL6 transgenic mouse and an investigation of the nootropic AGE inhibitor Tenilsetam.
Field of Research: Medical Science

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