Gut-Liver Immunopharmacology Unit

 The Gut-Liver Immunopharmacology unit focusses on the exploration of new therapeutic opportunities for intestinal and hepatic disorders. The pathogenesis of chronic liver and intestinal diseases is hallmarked by a dysfunctional immune response and subsequently continuous tissue damage, remodeling and pathological new vessel formation. Therefore, our group has specific interest in targeting inflammatory and angiogenic pathways as therapeutic strategy for hepatic and intestinal disorders. In addition, we have specific interest in the interconnection between the liver and the gut. Both organs are anatomically connected through the enterohepatic circulation and the hepatic portal system and it is not surprising that stressors affecting gut's homeostasis affect the liver and vice versa. The gut is a patrolling organ that has to sense essential nutrients and information but inhibit harmful components from entering the body. The liver has a tolerogenic role towards the constant portal supply of these intestinal products and this function is disrupted during chronic liver diseases which are characterized by a leaky gut and chronic hepatic immune activation. In addition, specific hepatic disorders represent with associated intestinal inflammation strengthening the interaction between both organs and the need to further explore interconnective pathways and how we can interfere in this gut-liver axis as therapeutic strategy.

Projects (current and recently finalized)

Infrastructure and techniques

The Gut-Liver Immunopharmacology unit makes use of in vitro and in vivo models to mimic human disease as closely as possible. To validate and extrapolate our results to the clinic, we make use of human samples through collaboration with the Hepatology Research Unit (dpt. Internal Medicine and Pediatrics).

 In vitro assays:

  • Commercial cell lines:
    • Human hepatoma cell lines: HepG2, PLC, Hep3b, SNU423
    • Mouse hepatoma cell lines: HEPA1-6, BWTG3
    • Human macrophage cell line: THP-1
    • Mouse macrophage cell line: RAW264-7
    • Mouse endothelial cell line: MS1
  • Mouse bone-marrow derived macrophages
  • Co-culture systems

 In vivo mouse models:

  • Acetaminophen-induced liver injury
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Cholestatic liver disease
  • Liver fibrosis/cirrhosis
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Postoperative ileus
  • Intestinal barrier disruption
  • Colitis

 Routine techniques to evaluate liver and gut pathology:

  • qRT-PCR
  • Luminex
  • Western blotting
  • Immunohistopathology (for liver and intestinal diseases)
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Flow cytometry and FACS
  • Isometric smooth muscle activity
  • Gastrointestinal transit (fluorescence via Genosmart camera)
  • 3H-acetylcholine release (scintillation counting)


  • Coordinator : Prof. Dr. Lindsey Devisscher   |   Prof. Dr. Romain Lefebvre - emeritus
  • Doctoral researchers : Sanne Van Campenhout | Jonas Van Dingenen | Kevin De Muynck | Bart Vanderborght
  • Lab technicians (Industrial engineer biochemistry) : Inge Van Colen | Els Van Deynse


Prof. Dr. Lindsey Devisscher, DVM, PhD
Gut-Liver Immunopharmacology unit
Dpt. Basic and Applied Medical Sciences
Ghent University, CAMPUS UZ
Corneel Heymanslaan 10, building B, Entrance 36
B-9000 Ghent