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Neuroimmunology group


About the research group

The research performed by Neuroimmunology group is mainly focused on immunology of multiple sclerosis (MS) and the role of magnetic resonance imaging in monitoring of MS and its therapies. During the last years, the major goals have been in identification of biomarkers and application of new imaging techniques in management of MS. These aims are approached by translational research strategies where clinical, basic immunological and modern imaging techniques are integrated to reach the goal.

The head of the Neuroimmunology group is professor Irina Elovaara who did her training in neurology at the Helsinki Central University Hospital and received a neurological certification and defended her PhD thesis from the University of Helsinki. She did her postdoctoral training at the Neuroimmunology Branch, NINDS, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda in 1991-1993, and was a visiting scientist at the Microbiology and Tumorbiology Center at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm 1996-1997. She joined Department of Neurology, Tampere University Hospital, Finland, in 1991 and University of Tampere in 1993 as an assistant Professor of Neuroimmunology. She is currently Professor of Neurology and Chief Neurologist at the Department of Neurology, Tampere University Hospital and University of Tampere. She has authored and co-authored 180 scientific articles, reviews and book chapters. She has served as a Chair of Finnish Neurological Association, a member of Scientific Committee of European Federation of Neurology (EFNS), and is a board member of European School of Neuroimmunology (ESNI). She has been involved in many international clinical trials in the field of multiple sclerosis.


group elovaara



Irina Elovaara, MD, PhD, professor

Marja-Liisa Sumelahti, MD, PhD, 

Marcin Kolasa, MD, PhD student, 

Julia Vistbakka, MSc, PhD student, 

Pabitra Basnyat, MSc, PhD student,

Laura Inkinen, MD, PhD student, 



Selected publications


Vistbakka J, Elovaara I, Lehtimäki T, Hagman S. Circulating microRNAs as biomarkers in progressive multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal (in press).

Kolasa M, Hagman S, Verkkoniemi-Ahola A, Airas L, Koivisto K, Elovaara I. Anti-JC virus seroprevalence in a Finnish MS cohort. Acta Neurol Scand. 2016 May;133(5):391-7.


Natarajan R, Hagman S, Hämäläinen M, Leppänen T, Dastidar P, Moilanen E,  Elovaara I. Adipsin is associated with multiple sclerosis: a follow-up study of adipokines. Multiple Sclerosis International 2015.

Basnyat P, Natarajan R, Vistbakka J, Lehtikangas M, Airas L, Matinlauri I,Elovaara I, Hagman S. Elevated levels of soluble CD26 and CD30 in multiple sclerosis. Clinical and experimental neuroimmunology 2015; 6: 419-425.

Rieckmann P, Boyko A, Centonze D, ElovaaraI, Giovannoni G, Havrdová E, Hommes O, Kesselring J, Kobelt G, Langdon D, LeLorier J, Morrow SA, Oreja-Guevara C, Schippling S, Thalheim C, Thompson H, Vermersch P. Achieving patient engagement in multiple sclerosis: A perspective from the multiple sclerosis in the 21st Century Steering Group. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2015; 4:202-18.

Basnyat P, Hagman S, Kolasa M, Koivisto K, Verkkoniemi-Ahola A, Airas L, Elovaara I. Association between soluble l-selectin and anti- JCV antibodies in natalizumab-treated  relapsing-remitting MS patients. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2015; 4: 334-8.

Hagman S, Kolasa M, Basnyat P, Helminen M, Kähönen M, Dastidar P, Lehtimäki T, Elovaara I., Analysis of apoptosis-related genes in patients with clinically isolated syndrome and their association with conversion to multiple sclerosis. J Neuroimmunol 2015; 280:43-8.

Kolasa M, Hakulinen U, Helminen M, Hagman S, Raunio M, Rossi M, Brander A, Dastidar P, Elovaara I. Longitudinal assessment of clinically isolated syndrome with diffusion tensor imaging and volumetric MRI. Clin Imaging. 2015; 39: 207-12.


Sumelahti ML, Holmberg MH, Murtonen A, Huhtala H, Elovaara I. Increasing Incidence in Relapsing-Remitting MS and High Rates among Young Women in Finland: A Thirty-Year Follow-Up. Mult Scler Int. 2014;2014:186950.

Savio S, Hakulinen U, Ryymin P, Hagman S, Dastidar P, Soimakallio S, Elovaara I, Eskola H. Hemispheric asymmetry measured by texture analysis and diffusion tensor imaging in two multiple sclerosis subtypes. Acta Radiol. 2014 Jul 14.

Sikiö M, Holli-Helenius KK, Harrison LC, Ryymin P, Ruottinen H, Saunamäki T, Eskola HJ, Elovaara I, Dastidar P. MR image texture in Parkinson's disease: a longitudinal study. Acta Radiol. 2014 Jan 10

Rossi ME, Ruottinen H, Saunamäki T, Elovaara I, Dastidar P. Imaging brain iron and diffusion patterns: a follow-up study of Parkinson's disease in the initial stages. Acad Radiol. 2014;21:64-71.


Natarajan R, Hagman S, Wu X, Hakulinen U, Raunio M, Helminen M, Rossi M, Dastidar P, Elovaara I. Diffusion Tensor Imaging in NAWM and NADGM in MS and CIS: Association with Candidate Biomarkers in Sera. Mult Scler Int. 2013.

Holmberg M, Murtonen A, Elovaara I, Sumelahti ML. Increased Female MS Incidence and Differences in Gender-Specific Risk in Medium- and High-Risk Regions in Finland from 1981-2010. Mult Scler Int. 2013;2013:182516.

Tenorio-Laranga J, Peltonen I, Keskitalo S, Duran-Torres G, Natarajan R, Männistö PT, Nurmi A, Vartiainen N, Airas L, Elovaara I, García-Horsman JA. Alteration of prolyl oligopeptidase and activated α-2-macroglobulin in multiple sclerosis subtypes and in the clinically isolated syndrome. Biochem Pharmacol. 2013; 85: 1783-94.

Comi G, Martinelli V, Rodegher M, Moiola L, Leocani L, Bajenaru O, Carra A, Elovaara I, Fazekas F, Hartung HP, Hillert J, King J, Komoly S, Lubetzki C, Montalban X, Myhr KM, Preziosa P, Ravnborg M, Rieckmann P, Rocca MA, Wynn D, Young C, Filippi M. Effects of early treatment with glatiramer acetate in patients with clinically isolated syndrome. Mult Scler. 2013;19: 1074-83.

International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium (IMSGC). Analysis of immune-related loci identifies 48 new susceptibility variants for multiple sclerosis. Nat Genet. 2013 45:1353-60.

Rossi M, Ruottinen H, Soimakallio S, Elovaara I, Dastidar P. Clinical MRI for iron detection in Parkinson's disease. Clin Imaging. 2013; 37 :631-6.

Comi G, Martinelli V, Rodegher M, Moiola L, Leocani L, Bajenaru O, Carra A, Elovaara I, Fazekas F, Hartung HP, Hillert J, King J, Komoly S, Lubetzki C, Montalban X, Myhr KM, Preziosa P, Ravnborg M, Rieckmann P, Rocca MA, Wynn D, Young C, Filippi M. Effects of early treatment with glatiramer acetate in patients with clinically isolated syndrome. Mult Scler. 2013; 19: 1074-83.


Kuusisto H, Wu X, Dastidar P, Luukkaala T, Elovaara I. Volumetric MRI assessment of brain and spinal cord in Finnish twins discordant for multiple sclerosis. Medicina (Kaunas). 2012; 48:437-41.

Natarajan R, Einarsdottir E, Riutta A, Hagman S, Raunio M, Mononen N, Lehtimäki T, Elovaara I. Melatonin pathway genes are associated with progressive  subtypes and disability status in multiple sclerosis among Finnish patients. J Neuroimmunol. 2012; 250: 106-10.

Soilu-Hänninen M, Aivo J, Lindström BM, Elovaara I, Sumelahti ML, Färkkilä M, Tienari P, Atula S, Sarasoja T, Herrala L, Keskinarkaus I, Kruger J, Kallio T, Rocca MA, Filippi M. A randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial with vitamin D3 as an add on treatment to interferon β-1b in patients with multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2012; 83: 565-71.


Hagman S, Raunio M, Rossi M, Dastidar P, Elovaara I. Disease-associated inflammatory biomarker profiles in blood in different subtypes of multiple sclerosis: prospective clinical and MRI follow-up study. J Neuroimmunol. 2011; 234: 141-7.

Elovaara I, Kuusisto H, Wu X, Rinta S, Dastidar P, Reipert B. Intravenous immunoglobulins are a therapeutic option in the treatment of multiple sclerosis relapse. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2011 ;34: 84-9.


Hietaharju A, Kuusisto H, Nieminen R, Vuolteenaho K, Elovaara I, Moilanen E.Elevated cerebrospinal fluid adiponectin and adipsin levels in patients with multiple sclerosis: a Finnish co-twin study. Eur J Neurol. 2010; 17: 332-4.

Elovaara I, Hietaharju A. Can we face the challenge of expanding use of intravenous immunoglobulin in neurology? Acta Neurol Scand. 2010 ;122: 309-15.

Ravnborg M, Sørensen PS, Andersson M, Celius EG, Jongen PJ, Elovaara I, Bartholomé E, Constantinescu CS, Beer K, Garde E, Sperling B. Methylprednisolone  in combination with interferon beta-1a for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MECOMBIN study): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled,parallel-group trial. Lancet Neurol. 2010; 9: 672-80

Harrison LC, Raunio M, Holli KK, Luukkaala T, Savio S, Elovaara I, Soimakallio S, Eskola HJ, Dastidar P. MRI texture analysis in multiple sclerosis: toward a clinical analysis protocol. Acad Radiol. 2010;17: 696-707.


Comi G, Martinelli V, Rodegher M, Moiola L, Bajenaru O, Carra A, Elovaara I, Fazekas F, Hartung HP, Hillert J, King J, Komoly S, Lubetzki C, Montalban X, Myhr KM, Ravnborg M, Rieckmann P, Wynn D, Young C, Filippi M; PreCISe study group.Effect of glatiramer acetate on conversion to clinically definite multiple sclerosis in patients with clinically isolated syndrome (PreCISe study): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2009;374:1503-11.

Ukkonen M, Vahvelainen T, Hämäläinen P, Dastidar P, Elovaara I. Cognitive dysfunction in primary progressive multiple sclerosis: a neuropsychological and MRI study. Mult Scler. 2009; 15:1055-61.

Narkilahti S, Hovatta O, Elovaara I. [Stem cells in therapy of multiple sclerosis]. Duodecim. 2009;125(9):965-73. Review.

Sorensen PS, Mellgren SI, Svenningsson A, Elovaara I, Frederiksen JL, BeiskeAG, Myhr KM, Søgaard LV, Olsen IC, Sandberg-Wollheim M. NORdic trial of oralMethylprednisolone as add-on therapy to Interferon beta-1a for treatment ofrelapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (NORMIMS study): a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Neurol. 2009; 8: 519-29.


Rinta S, Kuusisto H, Raunio M, Paalavuo R, Levula M, Lehtimäki T, Elovaara I. Apoptosis-related molecules in blood in multiple sclerosis. J Neuroimmunology 2008; 205:135-141.

Ukkonen M, Wu K, Reipert B, Dastidar P, Elovaara I. Cell surface adhesion molecules and cytokine profiles in primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2007; 13: 701-7.

Elovaara I, Apostolski S, van Doorn P, Gilhus NE, Hietaharju A, Honkaniemi J, van Schaik IN, Scolding N, Soelberg Sørensen P, Udd B; EFNS. EFNS guidelines for  the use of intravenous immunoglobulin in treatment of neurological diseases: EFNS task force on the use of intravenous immunoglobulin in treatment of neurological diseases. Eur J Neurol. 2008;15: 893-908.


Doctoral thesis

Renuka Natarajan

Biomarkers in Multiple Sclerosis: Special emphasis on melatonin and adipokines




Maritta Ukkonen

Primary progressive multiple sclerosis, Clinical, immunological and radiological study


Sanna Hagman

Inflammatory biomarkers in multiple sclerosis



Hanna Kuusisto

Multiple Sclerosis in Twins. A Finnish Twin Cohort study on genetic and environmental factors



Xingchen Wu

Multiple sclerosis: MRI diagnosis, potential treatment and future potential for nanoparticle applications


(in collaboration with Department for Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology,  Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden)


Mari Luomala


Immune system genes and multiple sclerosis A case-control study in a Finnish population


Ongoing PhD projects

Julia Vistbakka (MSc): Plasma miRNA profiles in multiple sclerosis and their association to clinical status

Marcin Kolasa (MD): Modern imaging techniques in multiple sclerosis

Pabitra Basnyat (MSc): Novel biomarkers in multiple sclerosis

Laura Inkinen (MD): The effect of hormone replacement therapy on clinical presentations and cognitive functions in postmenopausal women with multiple sclerosis.


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Muutettu: 4.7.2017 13.02 Muokkaa

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