Libert Unit - Mouse Genetics in Inflammation

Research field: Regulation of inflammation, infection and aging

Group leader: Prof. Dr. Claude Libert

Tel:+32 9 33 13 700  -  Fax:+32 9 221 76 73

Research topic

The inflammatory response is a fundamentally protective, complex and well conserved mechanism. It is actively involved in the induction of immune responses, e.g. against bacterial infection. Several key molecules in inflammation are normally kept under strict control. When this control fails, cytokines such as TNF, interleukins and interferons can cause extensive damage, leading to conditions such as chronic inflammation, sepsis or shock. We are interested in understanding the biology of some of these cytokines (TNF and IFNs), their receptors and their control mechanisms, and in evaluating their therapeutic relevance. The detailed study of the major TNF receptor, TNFRp55 forms an essential focus of our studies. We also focus on the anti-inflammatory mechanism of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and how TNF is compromising the function of the GR. We are identifying other potentially protective and harmful molecules and are studying them in mice. Among these are several members of the family of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which contribute to the development of inflammation. Besides a focus on groups of molecules, we also focus our attention on specific systems, such a the liver and small intestines and the choroid plexus. We are studying these molecules and systems in the context of inflammation and infectious diseases and have plenty of relevant mouse models up and running.


Area of expertise

  • Cytokine biology
  • Inflammation models in mice
  • Sepsis models in mice
  • Nuclear receptors
  • Generation of mouse mutants
  • Mapping and cloning traits in mice
  • Genomics and transcriptomics


Fluorescent staining of MMP7 and lysosyme
located in the Paneth cells of the ileum

Selected publications

  1. Balusu S et al. Identification of a novel mechanism of blood-brain communication during peripheral inflammation via choroid plexus-derived extracellular vesicles.
    EMBO Molecular Medicine, 8, 1162-1183, 2016.
  2. Puimège L et al. Glucocorticoid-induced microRNA-511 protects against TNF by down-regulating TNFR1.
    EMBO Molecular Medicine, 7, 1004-17, 2015.
  3. Vandenbroucke R, Libert C. Is there new hope for therapeutic matrix metalloproteinase inhibition?
    Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 13, 904-27, 2014.
  4. Van Hauwermeiren F et al. Safe TNF-based antitumor therapy following p55TNFR reduction in intestinal epithelium.
    Journal of Clinical Investigation, 123, 2590-603, 2013.
  5. Vandevyver S et al. Glucocorticoid receptor dimerization induces MKP1 to protect against TNF-induced inflammation.
    Journal of Clinical Investigation, 122, 2130-40, 2012.

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