The main research focus of Vascular Biology research group (VBRG) is the blood clearance function of the liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC) in health and disease.
Endothelial cells line the inner wall of blood and lymphatic vessels and have organ specific functions. LSECs make up the wall of the millions of hepatic sinusoids and represents a unique, specialized, endothelium, which is vital for the metabolism and functional homeostasis of the liver. Unlike other endothelial cells, the LSECs are highly perforated with nanosized pores that facilitate easy transfer of lipoproteins and solutes between blood and hepatocytes, a function that is important for the regulation of lipid levels in blood. LSECs further have a very high endocytic capacity compared to most other cells in the body and are important scavenger cells that remove a wide range of spent/modified plasma proteins, tissue turnover waste products, toxins, nano particles, and viruses from the blood circulation. This clearance function is now believed to play a central role in host defense, plasma protein homeostasis, and the prevention of acute and chronic complications, such as atherosclerosis, and abnormal bleeding/coagulation. The disadvantage of this clearance function is that it can remove nano drugs targeted for other tissues, and thus may interfere with drug delivery and increase the risk of liver toxicity.
Our research includes studies of the function and dynamics of the nanosized pores of the cells, and how these pores are affected by drugs, aging and disease. We also study LSEC scavenger functions, metabolism, and mechanisms of clearance of blood-borne waste, viruses, and nano drugs from blood, and the role of LSECs in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is huge health burden world-wide. The projects span from basic to translational, and applied studies, including the role of the cells in virus elimination, ageing, liver toxicology, nanodrug delivery, and pathogenesis of liver disease. Our projects also include comparative studies of scavenger endothelial cells/fenestrated endothelial cells in other vascular beds, and in different species.
The Vascular Biology Research Group (VBRG) has a broad local, national, and international network; we work to find applications of our basic research activity in medicine by ensuring a good collaboration with researchers in clinical medicine, the Institute sector, and pharmaceutical companies.
Institutt for medisinsk biologi
Det helsevitenskapelige fakultet
Universitetet i Tromsø