Vascular biology

The major focus of VBRG is on the blood clearance function of the liver sinusoidal endotheial cell. This clearance function is now believed to play a central role in the prevention of acute and chronical complications, e.g. atherosclerosis, abnormal bleeding/coagulation, metastasis of cancer via the blood circulation, chronic inflammatory reactions, and virus and bacterial infections. VBRG has a broad international network; we work to find application of our basic research activity in medicine by ensuring a good collaboration with researchers in clinical medicine and pharmaceutical companies in Norway and abroad.

VBRG continues along a research line that started about 30 years ago when a member of the group discovered the important physiological scavenger function of the liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC). The group has contributed importantly to the characterization of unique LSEC uptake receptors that endow the cells with an unusually high endocytic activity. The research group runs basic research on an internationally well recognized level, and contributes imporantly to implement this research in clinical networks: i) The LSEC is ideal for studies on intracellular transport and catabolism of endocytosed cargo, and we try to use this physiologically relevant cell system to investigate how these cells cope with endocytosed waste material that is difficult to degrade; ii) The LSEC plays a pivotal role in innate immunity of the liver; the cell is also involved in tuning down activation of immune reactions, and we are therefore interested in studying the receptors and signal pathways that lead to such ”silencing” of molecules and events that would nornally lead to activation of the immune system; ii) In collaboration with clinical medicine we have developed a bioreactor comprising cells from pig liver as a model to replace the liver function in patients that are waiting for liver transplantation; iii) We recently finished a project supported by a grant from National Institutes of Health, USA, to study the role of LSECs in the ageing process of liver; iv) We were just assigned partner of a large 5-year EU (FP7, ”HeMiBio”) consortium that will develop micro-size functional human liver via stem cell technology, with the goal to use this device as a non-animal toxicology test system; v) We have, through the coordination of an EU project contributed to developing a drug to correct the lysosmal disease alpha mannosidosis; vi) We collaborate with clinical and industrial laboratories to establish the role of LSECs in thrombosis and atherosclerosis; vii) We collaborate with optical physical laboratories in Tromso (UiT) and Sacramento (UCD) to develop a new principle of super resolution microscopy called Structured Illumination Microscopy for studies on live LSECs; viii) We study comparative biology of scavenger cells, using both phylogenetically old vertebrate animal species and invertebrates (in particular insects); ix) We have started a project to study scavenger endothelial cells of bone marrow, supported by the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority (Helse Nord RHF), in collaboration with the University clinic of Northern Norway (UNN) and a bone marrow/stem cell center in Melbourne. In addition to standard methods of molecular and cell biology, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology we also work to develop new methods of cell isolation and cultivation to prolong the culture time of LSECs.


Institutt for medisinsk biologi
Det helsevitenskapelige fakultet
Universitetet i Tromsø
9037 Tromsø