sommer Group


Prof. Claudia Sommer

Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Würzburg

Josef-Schneider-Str. 11, 97080 Würzburg

+49 931 201 23763

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Publications (selected list)

Evdokimov D, Frank J, Klitsch A, Unterecker S, Warrings B, Serra J, Papagianni A, Saffer N, Meyer Zu Altenschildesche C, Kampik D, Malik RA, Sommer C, Üçeyler N. Reduction of skin innervation is associated with a severe fibromyalgia phenotype. Ann Neurol 2019;86:504-16.


Üçeyler N, Urlaub D, Mayer C, Uehlein S, Held M, Sommer C. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha links heat and inflammation with Fabry pain. Mol Genet Metab 2019;127:200-6


Johannssen K, Schwab N, Wessig CP, Reiners K, Wiendl H, Sommer C. Myalgia with the presence of pathologic EMG correlates with perimysial inflammatory infiltrates. Neurology - Neuroimmunology Neuroinflammation 2019;6:e549.


Doppler K, Schuster Y, Appeltshauser L, Biko L, Villmann C, Weishaupt A, Werner C, Sommer C. Anti-CNTN1 IgG3 induces acute conduction block and motor deficits in a passive transfer rat model. J Neuroinflammation 2019;16:73.


Aster HC, Sommer C. Chronischer Schmerz und Gesellschaft. Schmerz 2019;33:183-4.


Üçeyler N, Vollert J, Broll B, Riediger N, Langjahr M, Saffer N, Schubert AL, Siedler G, Sommer C. Sensory profiles and skin innervation of patients with painful and painless neuropathies. Pain 2018;159:1867-76.


Sommer C, Leinders M, Üçeyler N. Inflammation in the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain. Pain 2018;159:595-602.


Leinders M, Üçeyler N, Thomann A, Sommer C. Aberrant microRNA expression in patients with painful peripheral neuropathies. J Neurol Sci 2017;380:242-9.

Sommer C (2016). Exploring pain pathophysiology in patients. Science 354:588–592. 

Attal N, de Andrade DC, Adam F, Ranoux D, Teixeira MJ, Galhardoni R, Raicher I, Üçeyler N, Sommer C, Bouhassira D (2016). Safety and efficacy of repeated injections of botulinum toxin A in peripheral neuropathic pain (BOTNEP): a randomised, double-blind, placebocontrolled trial. Lancet Neurol 15:555–565.

Doppler K, Appeltshauser L, Villmann C, Martin C, Peles E, Krämer HH, Haarmann A, Buttmann M, Sommer C (2016). Auto-antibodies to contactin-associated protein 1 (Caspr) in two patients with painful inflammatory neuropathy. Brain 139:2617–2630.

Doppler K, Ebert S, Üçeyler N, Trenkwalder C, Ebentheuer J, Volkmann J, Sommer C (2014). Cutaneous neuropathy in Parkinson's disease: a window into brain pathology. Acta Neuropathol 128:99–109.

Üçeyler N, Zeller D, Kahn AK, Kewenig S, Kittel-Schneider S, Schmid A, Casanova-Molla J, Reiners K, Sommer C (2013). Small fibre pathology in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Brain 136:1857–1867.

Geis C, Weishaupt A, Hallermann S, Grünewald B, Wessig C, Wultsch T, Reif A, Byts N, Beck M, Jablonka S, …, Sommer C (2010). Stiff person syndrome-associated autoantibodies to amphiphysin mediate reduced GABAergic inhibition. Brain 133:3166–3180.

Chen Y, Geis C, Sommer C (2008). Activation of TRPV1 contributes to morphine tolerance: involvement of the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway. J Neurosci 28:5836–

Sommer C, Weishaupt A, Brinkhoff J, Biko L, Wessig C, Gold R, Toyka KV (2005). Paraneoplastic stiff-person syndrome: passive transfer to rats by means of IgG antibodies to amphiphysin. Lancet 365:1406–1411.


The major theme of my research is to better understand the pathophysiology behind human neurological diseases. Starting from observations in individual patients, we use a translational approach to uncover mechanisms of disease. 

These are the main areas:


1. Antibody-related diseases.

1.1. Paranodopathiesare a group of peripheral neuropathies caused by antibodies to paranodal proteins. We have described a novel antibody to CASPR1, we analyze the role of complement in these disorders and we strive to understand the exact pathophysiological mechanism behind these disorders, so that eventually better treatment will evolve. This project is supervised in collaboration with Kathrin Doppler.


Left upper panel: Patient serum binding to the paranodal area of a teased nerve fiber indicating antibodies to a paranodal protein.

Right upper panel: Patient serum induces loss of F-waves in experimental animals (From Doppler et al. J Neuroinflamm 2019;16:73)

Left lower panel: Patient serum induces disruption of the paranodal architecture (From Doppler et al. J Neuroinflamm 2019;16:73)

1.2. Antibody-related diseases of the CNS comprise, among others, autoimmune encephalitis, and the stiff-person syndrome (SPS). At present, we study the pathophysiology of the glycine receptor antibody associated SPS in collaboration with Carmen Villmann, and other SPS types in the context of the doctoral program “Resilience in Pain Processing”  and in the DFG-funded research consortium SYNABS.


Left panel: Binding of patient serum to GlyR transfected HEK cells (from Doppler et al. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm 2016;3:e186)

Right panel: STED microscopy showing clustering of the endocytic protein AP180 in neurons pre-incubated with anti-amphiphysin antibodies. This occurs preferentially at GABAergic synapses. (from Geis et al. Brain 2010:133:3166-3180

2. Pathophysiology and treatment of pain

Here we have several model systems and approaches.

2.1. One complex centers around pain in Fabry disease, in collaboration with Nurcan Üçeyler and FAZIT and with Mirko Pham in SFB 1158

2.2. Another main focus is the fibromyalgia syndrome, where we study the peripheral and central nervous system using patients’ biosamples, neurophysiology, and brain imaging (in collaboration with Mirko Pham). These projects are funded by Evangelisches Studienwerk ( ) and IZKF Würzburg.

2.3 In the DFG-funded consortium PruSearch we investigate what pain and pruritus have in common. We use psychophysical  and neurophysiological tests in patients, and investigate biosamples for mediators related to pain and itch.

2.4.ToBEATPAIN is a European consortium with a focus on training young scientists in a network of labs in different European countries.  The consortium studies mechanisms of neuroinflammation in pain and in neurodegenerative diseases. In our lab, we investigate the role of inflammation in painful neuropathies.

2.5. Prevention of postoperative pain. As president of the German Pain Society, I am proud to represent the leadership of the multicentric project POET-Pain, supported by the German Government (Innovationsfonds des Gemeinsamen Bundesausschuss) with seven million Euro for the next three years.