On the role of adaptive and innate immune-cell receptor signaling in NASH and subsequent liver cancer

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Mathias Heikenwälder

German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
Department of Chronic Inflammation and Cancer(link is external)

E-Mail(link sends e-mail)


Project Summary

Metabolic cues affect lymphocyte activation, tumor immune control and can be tumor-promoting. As a consequence of Western diet and subsequent metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most frequent liver disease. It progresses to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with high incidence. We have generated a mouse model that recapitulates the pathophysiology of human NASH and HCC. We found that aberrantly activated lymphocytes drive NASH and HCC, and validated these observations in humans. Our project will investigate the role of BCR-/TCR- and innate immune signaling (e.g. TLRs and inflammasome) in NASH and HCC.

Two scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) will be awarded the German Cancer Prize this year for their outstanding work in cancer research: Mathias Heikenwälder, who received the prize in the experimental research category, showed, among other things, how inflammation affects the development of liver cancer.

Scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have presented a new method for generating metabolic profiles of individual cells.

A particular type of dendritic cell is responsible for the tissue damage that occurs in non-alcoholic steatohepatits (NASH) in mice and humans.

Immunotherapy using checkpoint inhibitors is effective in around a quarter of patients with liver cancer. However, to date, physicians have been unable to predict which patients would benefit from this type of treatment and which would not.

Lymphomas in the central nervous system are rare but dangerous. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now discovered which molecular mechanism leads to lymphomas forming metastases in the central nervous system.

Blood platelets which interact with liver cells and immune cells play a major role in the development of fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver inflammation and liver cancer, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg and from Zurich University and University Hospital have now shown in a publication.