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Vascular function

Principal Investigator: Holger Nilsson

We are investigating basal mechanisms in excitation-contraction coupling in vascular smooth muscle and its regulation by extrinsic factors. The activity of vascular smooth muscle is determined mainly by the intracellular concentration of free calcium and by the sensitivity of the contractile machinery to calcium. The intracellular calcium concentration is determined primarily by the membrane potential that in turn is dependent on the activity of numerous ion channels in the plasma membrane. We are interested in the regulation of these mechanisms under normal and pathological conditions.

Adipose tissue

In recent years it has become evident that adipose tissue releases one or more factors that directly affect blood vessels, causing vasodilation. We have studied this function in rodent blood vessels and shown that, apart from modulating the activity of potassium channels, there is also an influence on intracellular calcium sensitivity. We also study changes in this mechanism in hypertension and menopause.

Disc hernia

Together with assoc. prof. Ingela Hammar we study the interplay between blood vessel function and nerve function in pain associated with disc herniation. Our hypothesis is that disc hernia affects not only neural function but also vascular function, and that the interplay between these two is of importance for the motor and sensory effects of disc herniation.


We have previously characterised a specific ion current across the cell membrane of vascular smooth muscle, a chloride current that is regulated by the combination of intracellular calcium and cyclic GMP. This current seems to depend on the protein bestrophin-3, and in some blood vessels it is linked to oscillations in tone (so called vasomotion). We are currently studying the presence of this protein in other tissues, and have demonstrated it in renal podocytes in mice. However, in those cells it seems to be expressed only in shorter isoforms, which are not able to form membrane channels; its function rather seems related to cell survival after stress. The protein’s appearance in humans is being studied.

Principal Investigator

Holger Nilsson

E-mail: holger.nilsson@gu.se
Phone: +46 (0)31-786 3518

Group members

Helena Gustafsson
Adjunct Senior Lecturer

Gregor Guron

Veronika Golubinskaya
Postdoctoral research fellow

Page Manager: Annie Sundling|Last update: 4/7/2017

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