Experimental Liver Research Group (Melum Group)


Espen Melum
Group Leader

The projects in the experimental group aim to understand the triggering and regulatory events taking place during cholangitis development. We do this by using different murine models of cholangitis and in vitro assays.

From the genome-wide association studies headed by NoPSC it is clear that the genetic risk factors for PSC are genes involved in the immune response. We have therefore chosen to study various immune driven models of cholangitis along with models based on specific genetic findings in the human studies. To complement the in vivo studies the group is also using selected in vitro cellular models to study the role of various cell types in the liver and bile duct immune responses. A special emphasis in our studies is put on natural killer T-cells, an abundant population of lymphocytes in the liver with regulatory properties. Several ongoing studies aim to clarify the role of these cells in cholangitis development. In addition to the cholangitis-centered studies we perform basic studies related to activation and development of NKT-cells.

Financial support and collaboration
The experimental projects are funded by the Norwegian PSC Research Center, the South Eastern Norwegian Health trust (two PhD students) as well as the K.G. Jebsen Inflammatory Research Center (JIRC). Central collaborators in our projects are: Richard Blumberg (Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard), Mark Exley (Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard), Sebastian Zeissig (Christian-Albrechts university, Kiel) and Arthur Kaser (Cambridge University). The surgically induced cholangitis models are performed together with the Department of Transplantation Surgery (Bjarte Fosby).

The research is performed in tight collaboration with the Norwegian PSC Research Center (NoPSC)


Photo Øystein H. Horgmo, University of Oslo

From left to right: Laura Valestrand, Espen Melum, Xiaojun Jiang, Anne Pharo, Eva Kristine K. Henriksen (middle) and Natalie L. Berntsen (in the front)