Van Vlierberghe & Devisscher lab

Prof. dr. Hans Van Vlierberghe


dr. Lindsey Devisscher

Research topic

The liver is structurally and functionally positioned as a filter and homeostatic guardian between the gut and the rest of the body. The liver drains gut-derived compounds via the portal tract, has important tolerogenic and detoxifying functions, controls glucose levels and lipid metabolism and excretes bile acids via the biliary tree to complete the enterohepatic cycle. This cycle is important as it is also involved in the pharmacological effect of drugs and metabolites. Unsurprisingly, the liver-gut axis is compromised in many gastrointestinal diseases.

In the Hepatology Research Unit, we focus on chronic liver diseases (CLDs) including (non-) alcoholic fatty liver disease, cholestatic liver disease, liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma which are all characterized by a leaky-gut and intestinal microbial dysbiosis. As a consequence, the liver immune system is chronically activated by gut-derived bacterial compounds and this results in chronic hepatic inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the liver induces pathological vessel and scar formation and results in associated complications such as portal hypertension which compromise the liver-gut cross-talk. As such, patients with CLD are at increased risk for bacterial translocation and sepsis. Altering intestinal microbiota, the bile acid pool and intestinal motility have all become explorative novel therapeutic strategies in patients suffering from CLD but despite this, effective therapy is lacking. In the Hepatology Research Unit, we use mouse models, human samples and in vitro assays to study the pathogenesis of liver diseases and explore new therapeutic opportunities which target inflammation and angiogenesis and how these compounds restore glucose and lipid metabolism and the liver-gut symbiosis.

Areas of expertise

  • Biobanking of liver tissue and serum from patients with acute and chronic liver disease
  • In vitro assays and mouse models for liver diseases including paracetamol-induced acute liver injury, alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and associated liver inflammation, models for liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma

Selected publications

  1. Verhelst et al. Glycome Patterns of Perfusate in Livers Before Transplantation Associate With Primary Non-function. Gastroenterology 2018
  2. Devisscher et al. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis induces transient changes within the liver macrophage pool. Cell Immunol 2017
  3. Raevens et al. Placental growth factor inhibition targets pulmonary angiogenesis and represents a novel therapy for hepatopulmonary syndrome in mice. Hepatology 2017
  4. Paridaens et al. Combination of tauroursodeoxycholic acid and N-acetylcysteine exceeds standard treatment for acetaminophen intoxication. Int J Mol Sci 2017
  5. Devisscher et al. Targeting the angio-proteostasis network: Combining the forces against cancer. Pharmacol Ther 2016
  6. Vandewynckel et al. Next-generation proteasome inhibitor oprozomib synergizes with modulators of the unfolded protein response to suppress hepatocellular carcinoma. Oncotarget 2016

Partners and sponsors