Mechanisms regulating the gut-liver axis during health and disease

Naiara Beraza

Dr Naiara Beraza

Research Leader

Mechanisms regulating the gut-liver axis during health and disease

Gut-liver axis, microbiome, immunity

Research in our group centres on the links between intestinal inflammatory conditions (such as IBD) and chronic liver disease characterised by loss of cell function leading to cirrhosis, and ultimately to cancer.

There is increasing evidence of the close association between chronic liver disease and intestinal dysfunction that includes profound changes in the intestinal microbiome. Our aim is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of communication between the gut, the microbiome and the liver, and use this knowledge to improve health.

We are currently focusing on understanding the regulators of these processes, with a view to being able to propose therapeutic strategies targeting specific cellular pathways in the host and the microbiome as a way to counter liver disease and preserve liver health. This may also lead to new therapeutics for inflammatory conditions of the gut, which are closely associated with liver disease. We are also interested in understanding how different dietary choices and foods impact on interactions between the host and the microbiota, and how this affects health.

The multidisciplinary research conducted in our group combines the use of basic molecular biology with high throughput analysis techniques such as next generation sequencing, proteomics and metabolomics as well as other cutting-edge methodologies including bioenergetic metabolism analysis by Seahorse technology.

We also perform a wide variety of imaging techniques including histopathological analysis, immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence, as well as the characterisation of the different immune cell populations with conventional and spectral flow cytometry combined with cell sorting.

Our research uses established pre-clinical experimental models in combination with in vitro models, mainly using primary cells and organoids. As part of the translational nature of our work, we collaborate with clinicians to support the clinical relevance of our studies.

Image credits: The Beraza group and the Quadram Institute Advanced Microscopy Facility 

Microscopy image of a large intestine stained for senescence

Our Targets

Targeting IBD

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Targeting liver disease

Liver/lipid disease

Targeting cancer

Cancer

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