Ruitenberg Group

Our group works at the interface between the nervous and immune system, investigating the role of inflammation in complex neurological conditions such as spinal cord injury.

We are specifically interested in defining the various immune cell subsets that become activated and recruited to the inflamed central nervous system in such conditions, how these cells signal and work together to dictate outcomes.

We closely collaborate with other scientists and clinicians to address these questions using advanced genetic and molecular approaches, high-resolution imaging, behavioural assays and statistical modelling.

The ultimate goal of our work is to link immune cell function to neuropathology, and to find new and innovative ways to better treat neurological conditions that currently have no cure.

Sagittal spinal cord

Current research lines and projects include:

  • Immune cell biology in spinal cord injury
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy for acute spinal cord injury
  • Stem/progenitor cell responses in CNS injury and repair
  • Anti-neuronal antibodies in neurological disease

We always welcome expressions of interest from gifted and highly motivated students or researchers to join our team.

Group Head

Group Members

For a full list of publications, visit eSpace


Brennan, Faith H., Jogia, Trisha, Gillespie, Ellen R., Blomster, Linda V., Li, Xaria X., Nowlan, Bianca, Williams, Gail M., Jacobson, Esther, Osborne, Geoff W., Meunier, Frederic A., Taylor, Stephen M., Campbell, Kate E., MacDonald, Kelli P.A., Levesque, Jean-Pierre, Woodruff, Trent M. and Ruitenberg, Marc J. (2019) Complement receptor C3aR1 controls neutrophil mobilization following spinal cord injury through physiological antagonism of CXCR2JCI Insight4 9: . doi:10.1172/jci.insight.98254


Hazleton, Isla, Yates, Abi, Dale, Ashley, Roodselaar, Jay, Akbar, Naveed, Ruitenberg, Marc, Anthony, Daniel C. and Couch, Yvonne (2017) Exacerbation of Acute Traumatic Brain Injury by Circulating Extracellular VesiclesJournal of Neurotrauma35 4: 639-651. doi:10.1089/neu.2017.5049


Ruitenberg, Marc J., Wells, Julia, Bartlett, Perry F., Harvey, Alan R. and Vukovic, Jana (2017) Enrichment increases hippocampal neurogenesis independent of blood monocyte-derived microglia presence following high-dose total body irradiationBrain Research Bulletin132 150-159. doi:10.1016/j.brainresbull.2017.05.013

Biggins, Patrick, Brennan, Faith, Taylor, Stephen, Woodruff, Trent and Ruitenberg, Marc (2017) The alternative receptor for complement component 5a, C5aR2, conveys neuroprotection in traumatic spinal cord injuryJournal of Neurotrauma34 12: 2075-2085. doi:10.1089/neu.2016.4701

Lee, John D., Kumar, Vinod, Fung, Jenny N. T., Ruitenberg, Marc J., Noakes, Peter G. and Woodruff, Trent M. (2017) Pharmacological inhibition of complement C5a-C5a1 receptor signalling ameliorates disease pathology in the hSOD1G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosisBritish Journal of Pharmacology173 8: 689-699. doi:10.1111/bph.13730

Chen, Min, Arumugam, Thiruma V., Leanage, Gayeshika, Tieng, Quang M., Yadav, Ashwin, Ullmann, Jeremy F. P., She, David T., Truong, Vy, Ruitenberg, Marc J. and Reutens, David C. (2017) Disease-modifying effect of intravenous immunoglobulin in an experimental model of epilepsyScientific Reports7 1: 40528. doi:10.1038/srep40528

Jung, Won-Cheol, Levesque, Jean-Pierre and Ruitenberg, Marc J. (2017) It takes nerve to fight back: the significance of neural innervation of the bone marrow and spleen for immune functionSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology61 60-70. doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2016.08.010

Jung, Won-Cheol, Levesque, Jean-Pierre and Ruitenberg, Marc J. (2017) It takes nerve to fight back: the significance of neural innervation of the bone marrow and spleen for immune functionSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology61 60-70. doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2016.08.010


Arumugam, Thiruma V., Manzanero, Silvia, Furtado, Milena, Biggins, Patrick J., Hsieh, Yu Hsuan, Gelderblom, Mathias, MacDonald, Kelli P. A., Salimova, Ekaterina, Li, Yu I., Korn, Othmar, Dewar, Deborah, Macrae, I. Mhairi, Ashman, Robert B., Tang, Sung-Chun, Rosenthal, Nadia A., Ruitenberg, Marc J., Magnus, Tim and Wells, Christine A.(2016) An atypical role for the myeloid receptor Mincle in central nervous system injuryJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism37 6: 2098-2111. doi:10.1177/0271678X16661201

Dando, Samantha J., Naranjo Golborne, Cecilia, Chinnery, Holly R., Ruitenberg, Marc J. and McMenamin, Paul G.(2016) A case of mistaken identity: CD11c-eYFP+ cells in the normal mouse brain parenchyma and neural retina display the phenotype of microglia, not dendritic cellsGlia64 8: 1331-1349. doi:10.1002/glia.23005

Brennan, Faith H., Kurniawan, Nyoman D., Vukovic, Jana, Bartlett, Perry F., Käsermann, Fabian, Arumugam, Thiruman V., Basta, Milan and Ruitenberg, Marc J. (2016) IVIg attenuates complement and improves spinal cord injury outcomes in miceAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology3 7: 495-511. doi:10.1002/acn3.318

Brennan, Faith H., Lee, John D., Ruitenberg, Marc J. and Woodruff, Trent M. (2016) Therapeutic targeting of complement to modify disease course and improve outcomes in neurological conditionsSeminars in Immunology28 3: 292-308. doi:10.1016/j.smim.2016.03.015


Brennan, Faith H. and Ruitenberg, Marc J. (2015) Targeting acute inflammation to complement spinal cord repairNeural Regeneration Research10 10: 1596-1598. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.165268

Brennan, Faith H., Gordon, Richard, Lao, Hong W., Biggins, Patrick J., Taylor, Stephen M., Franklin, Robin J. M., Woodruff, Trent M. and Ruitenberg, Marc J. (2015) The complement receptor C5aR controls acute inflammation and astrogliosis following spinal cord injuryJournal of Neuroscience35 16: 6517-6531. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5218-14.2015


Low PC, Manzanero S, Mohannak N, Narayana VK, Nguyen TH, Kvaskoff D, Brennan FH, Ruitenberg MJ, Gelderblom M, Magnus T, Kim HA, Broughton BR, Sobey CG, Vanhaesebroeck B, Stow JL, Arumugam TV, Meunier FA (2014). PI3K delta inhibition reduces TNF secretion and neuroinflammation in a mouse cerebral stroke model. Nature Communications 5: 3450.

Mohammad MG, Tsai VW, Ruitenberg MJ, Hassanpour M, Li H, Hart PH, Breit SN, Sawchenko PE, Brown DA (2014). Immune cell trafficking from the brain maintains CNS immune tolerance. Journal of Clinical Investigation 124: 1228-41.


Schmid AB, Coppieters MW, Ruitenberg MJ, McLachlan EM (2013). Local and remote immune-mediated inflammation after mild peripheral nerve compression in rats. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 72: 662-80.

Brennan FH, Cowin GJ, Kurniawan ND, Ruitenberg MJ (2013). Longitudinal assessment of white matter pathology in the injured mouse spinal cord through ultra-high field (16.4 T) in vivo diffusion tensor imaging. NeuroImage 82: 574-85.

Wu MC, Brennan FH, Lynch JP, Mantovani S, Phipps S, Wetsel RA, Ruitenberg MJ, Taylor SM, Woodruff TM (2013). The receptor for complement component C3a mediates protection from intestinal ischemia-reperfusion injuries by inhibiting neutrophil mobilization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110: 9439-44.

Blomster LV, Brennan FH, Lao HW, Harle DW, Harvey AR, Ruitenberg MJ (2013). Mobilisation of the splenic monocyte reservoir and peripheral CX₃CR1 deficiency adversely affects recovery from spinal cord injury. Experimental Neurology 247: 226-40

Vukovic J, Borlikova GG, Ruitenberg MJ, Robinson GJ, Sullivan RK, Walker TL, Bartlett PF (2013). Immature doublecortin-positive hippocampal neurons are important for learning but not for remembering. The Journal of Neuroscience 33: 6603-13.

Spanevello MD, Tajouri SI, Mirciov C, Kurniawan N, Pearse MJ, Fabri LJ, Owczarek CM, Hardy MP, Bradford RA, Ramunno ML, Turnley AM, Ruitenberg MJ, Boyd AW, Bartlett PF (2013). Acute delivery of EphA4-Fc improves functional recovery after contusive spinal cord injury in rats. Journal of Neurotrauma 30:1023-34.

Harrison M, O'Brien A, Adams L, Cowin G, Ruitenberg MJ, Sengul G, Watson C (2013). Vertebral landmarks for the identification of spinal cord segments in the mouse. NeuroImage 68: 22-9.

Blomster LV, Cowin GJ, Kurniawan ND, Ruitenberg MJ (2013). Detection of endogenous iron deposits in the injured mouse spinal cord through high-resolution ex vivo and in vivo MRI. NMR in Biomedicine 26: 141-50.


Mohammad MG, Hassanpour M, Tsai VW, Li H, Ruitenberg MJ, Booth DW, Serrats J, Hart PH, Symonds GP, Sawchenko PE, Breit SN, Brown DA (2012). Dendritic cells and multiple sclerosis: disease, tolerance and therapy. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 14: 547-62.

Brennan FH, Anderson AJ, Taylor SM, Woodruff TM, Ruitenberg MJ (2012) Complement activation in the injured central nervous system: another dual-edged sword? Journal of Neuroinflammation 9: 137.

Etemad S, Zamin RM, Ruitenberg MJ, Filgueira L (2012). A novel in vitro human microglia model: characterization of human monocyte-derived microglia.Journal of Neuroscience Methods 209: 79-89.

Rupasinghe DB, Knapp O, Blomster LV, Schmid AB, Adams DJ, King GF, Ruitenberg MJ (2012). Localization of Nav 1.7 in the normal and injured rodent olfactory system indicates a critical role in olfaction, pheromone sensing and immune function. Channels 6: 103-10.

Vukovic J, Colditz MJ, Blackmore DG, Ruitenberg MJ, Bartlett PF (2012). Microglia modulate hippocampal neural precursor activity in response to exercise and aging. The Journal of Neuroscience 32: 6435-43.

Chinnery HR, McLenachan S, Humphries T, Kezic JM, Chen X, Ruitenberg MJ, McMenamin PG (2012). Accumulation of murine subretinal macrophages: effects of age, pigmentation and CX3CR1. Neurobiology of Aging 33: 1769-76.


Blomster LV, Vukovic J, Hendrickx DA, Jung S, Harvey AR, Filgueira L, Ruitenberg MJ (2011). CX₃CR1 deficiency exacerbates neuronal loss and impairs early regenerative responses in the target-ablated olfactory epithelium. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 48: 236-45.

Belavy D, Ruitenberg MJ, Brijball RB (2011). Feasibility study of real-time three-/four-dimensional ultrasound for epidural catheter insertion. British Journal of Anaesthesia 107: 438-45.

Roet KC, Bossers K, Franssen EH, Ruitenberg MJ, Verhaagen J (2011).

A meta-analysis of microarray-based gene expression studies of olfactory bulb-derived olfactory ensheathing cells. Experimental Neurology 229: 10-45.


Chinnery HR, Ruitenberg MJ, McMenamin PG. Novel characterization of monocyte-derived cell populations in the meninges and choroid plexus and their rates of replenishment in bone marrow chimeric mice. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 69: 896-909.

Vukovic J, Blomster LV, Chinnery HR, Weninger W, Jung S, McMenamin PG, Ruitenberg MJ (2010). Bone marrow chimeric mice reveal a role for CX₃CR1 in maintenance of the monocyte-derived cell population in the olfactory neuroepithelium. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 88: 645-54.


Vukovic J, Marmorstein LY, McLaughlin PJ, Sasaki T, Plant GW, Harvey AR, Ruitenberg MJ (2009). Lack of fibulin-3 alters regenerative tissue responses in the primary olfactory pathway. Matrix Biology 28: 406-15.

Hellström M, Ruitenberg MJ, Pollett MA, Ehlert EM, Twisk J, Verhaagen J, Harvey AR (2009). Cellular tropism and transduction properties of seven adeno-associated viral vector serotypes in adult retina after intravitreal injection. Gene Therapy 16: 521-32.

Project 1:  Dissecting the role of myeloid cell subsets in lesion site development and recovery from spinal cord injury.

Project 2:  How does high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy improve recovery from spinal cord injury?

Project 3:  Understanding immune (dys)function after spinal cord injury.

Project 4:  Understanding the contribution of extracellular vesicles to the outcome of spinal cord injury.

Project 5:  Endogenous stem/progenitor cell responses to CNS injury.

Project 6:  Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based strategies for spinal cord repair.

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