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RESEARCH AREA AND TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH

One of the main research interests of the gastroenterology and hepatology group is the gut-liver axis. We investigate the fundamental principles of host-microbe interactions in the gut and the way how they can affect liver diseases and the development of portal hypertension. The gut and the liver communicate in a bidirectional way and influence each other in physiological and/or pathological conditions. This communication occurs through the portal circulation, that carries gut-derived products to the liver –  and, through the biliary system – that transports the bile from the liver to the intestine. In chronic liver disease, disturbances in the gut-liver axis may lead to bacterial translocation from the intestinal lumen to lymph nodes and to extra-intestinal organs. This may over activate the immune system, promoting the progression of liver disease. The main aim of our research is to understand how the disruption of the gut mucosal and vascular barrier occurs and how this may affect the course of liver diseases and the progression of portal hypertension.

We are moreover interested in discovering the mechanisms that are responsible for the development of fatty liver disease. Since no efficient treatment is currently available, we aim to understand the role of Paneth cells, a particular family of intestinal immune cells, in the regulation of lipid metabolism and lymphatic circulation. Intestinal and mesenteric lymphatic networks are the largest and major routes for dietary fat uptake and transport, re-circulation of interstitial fluids and immune cells along the gut-liver axis.

We use experimental models of acute or chronic liver disease and portal hypertension, intestinal organoids and cell cultures together with cutting edge molecular biology technologies.

RESEARCH METHODS

Our research group has acquired extensive experience in the use of different experimental models of chronic liver disease in axenic, gnotobiotic, and Paneth cell depleted conditions. We assess the hemodynamic parameters by measuring portal pressure, mesenteric blood flow and porto-systemic collaterals in preclinical model of liver disease. We reproduce in vivo conditions by transferring our research in vitro by culturing and growing three-dimensional intestinal organoids or mini-guts. We study vascular development and fibrotic changes making use of several immunohistochemistry and other imaging methods.

GROUP LEADER
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PROF. DR. MED. ANDREA DE GOTTARDI

BRIEF CV

Andrea De Gottardi is head of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale (www.eoc.ch), full professor at the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences of Università della Svizzera Italiana (https://www.biomed.usi.ch/en) and consultant at Epatocentro in Lugano (www.epatocentro.ch). He studied medicine in Lausanne and Heidelberg and graduated in 1994. He trained in internal medicine and obtained a PhD at the University of Berne before completing his GI and Hepatology fellowship in Geneva. As a recipient of a EASL Sheila Sherlock post-doc award, he joined the research group of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona where he worked 2 years under the supervision of Professor Jaime Bosch, focussing on the complications of portal hypertension. He joined the Hepatology team of Prof. Jean-François Dufour at Inselspital in Berne before moving to his current position in 2019.

He leads a research group working on the effects of the intestinal bacterial flora on the regulation of blood flow at the Laboratories of Translational Research of EOC in Bellinzona. As a researcher-clinician, he coordinates a multicentre project on thrombotic disorders of the liver and participates as a co-investigator in several international studies including the European reference Network on Rare Liver Diseases. He has served as chair of the EASL-VALDIG Consortium (vascular liver disease group). Former president of the Swiss Association for the Study of the Liver and co-founder of the Swiss liver patient association (www.swisshepa.org).

RESEARCHERS
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Stefania Huber

MASTER STUDENT

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Oriol Juanola

PHD, POST-DOC

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Sheida Moghadamrad

PHD, JUNIOR PI

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
FUNDINGS
  • Swiss Science National Foundation
  • Fondazione Leonardo
  • Falk Foundation
  • Novartis Foundation
  • Swiss NASH Foundation
PHOTOGALLERY