B08: Effects of the gut microenvironment on liver during cancer

Gut-liver communication critically contributes to the establishment of immune homeostasis. However, the gut-liver axis also contributes to pathogenic processes like cancers, which co-opt pathways of tissue regeneration and immune tolerance. We will investigate how intestinal tumours affect the hepatic immune environment to promote pathogenic cancer effects, namely engraftment of metastases and tissue dysfunction contributing to cachexia. Molecular mechanisms that control the inflammatory processes involved in the development of distant metastasis and cachexia most likely run in parallel and influence each other. Both liver metastasis and cachexia greatly contribute to morbidity
and mortality in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients, but the role of the gut-liver axis in CRC and CRC-mediated metastasis has not been elucidated.

We aim at addressing the following questions:

  • Characterisating the impact of gut tumours on the liver: What are the effects of the gut tumours on liver immune populations, inflammatory mediators and hepatic function in the absence of metastases?
  • Characterisation of the functional consequences of gut tumours on liver metastases and cachexia: What are the consequences and mediators of CRC-induced hepatic changes?
  • Transfer the findings of mouse models to patients: To which point do the findings in mouse models apply to human CRC patients?

Involved scientists

Publications within Project B08