Liver inflammation: infection, immune regulation and consequences

In the focus of research: the liverVideoarchiv

In the focus of research: the liver online seit 03.04.2014

We thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for funding the Collaborative Research Centre 841.

Liver diseases are frequent and bear a high risk of severe health impairment – in Europe and worldwide. Liver cirrhoses is among the ten most common causes of death. Liver cancer is one of the ten most common malignancies. Viral and parasitic infections are very frequent causes of liver injury. A central element of all of these conditions is liver inflammation.

The challenge
Liver injury, the inflammatory response to injury, repair of damaged tissue and the formation of liver cancer are mutually interrelated processes. Inflammation promotes liver regeneration but also the risk of malignant transformation. Tissue repair can inhibit inflammation, but also result in scar formation and in case of extensive scarring, in the failure of organ function. However, unlike any other solid organ, even a severely damaged liver can completely regenerate.

A better understanding of the multiplex interactions between inflammatory cells and injured or regenerating tissue cells may open new avenues for the treatment of liver disease. Moreover, by studying liver inflammation we may also gain a rather general insight into how inflammation influences tissue repair and carcinogenesis.

Integrated research
Classical research on liver disease has focussed on injury, regeneration, cancer or inflammation as separate entities. The Collaborative Research Centre 841 (CRC 841) of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft entitled ”Liver inflammation: infection, immune regulation and consequences” integrates scientists and projects from the various fields of liver research, and thus facilitates efficient and comprehensive research on liver disease.

Several research groups in Hamburg have developed a distinct expertise in basic experimental liver research, which is complementary to the particular clinical expertise in the management of hepatic disease at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf. By closely integrating basic and clinical expertise on liver disease, we aim to achieve a rapid and significant improvement in patient care.

The establishment of the CRC 841 in Hamburg enables us to study liver inflammation and inflammatory liver disease, and to develop innovative strategies for diagnosis and therapy of these conditions.

The objective is to induce healing of injured liver and to prevent liver cancer by ways of controlling liver inflammation.

Structure of the CRC 841
The CRC 841 is comprised of three project areas: project area A “Infection”, project area B “Immune Regulation”, project area C “Consequences”. In addition, there are two central service projects, which provide and develop experimental methods. Training of young academics, MD and PhD students is facilitated by the integrated graduate school ‘Inflammation and regeneration’.

The CRC 841 includes 22 projects from 12 academic and non-academic research organisations; the majority of the projects (16 projects) is located at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf. 25 principal investigators and about 100 scientists are involved.

Besides at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, projects are located at the Bernhard-Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Heinrich Pette Institute (Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology), both in Hamburg, at the Biochemistry Institute of the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, and at the Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy of the Hadassah Medical Centre of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

Regular guest lectures and symposia with scientists from other institutions facilitate scientific communication beyond local and national limits.