Research group of Integrative Clinical Physiology

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The focus of the current research at the division is on the importance of the skeletal muscle and the cardiovascular system with regard to physical work capacity, aging and various clinical syndromes such as heart failure, where work capacity and muscle function has been shown to be important for the symptoms and progression of disease.

In order to combat the increase in prevalent human diseases, it is important to integrate clinical parameters with physiological measurements and molecular findings from various human tissues. At our division, we aim to use an integrative and translational approach bringing pre-clinical and clinical researchers together when addressing pertinent scientific questions in this field.

Even though our main target tissue is skeletal muscle, other tissues/organ systems such as the myocardium, fat tissue and the vascular system are studied because they interact  with the skeletal muscle and may also have systemic and/or also para/ endocrine effects on muscle tissue. Traditional (and essential) metabolic and physiological measurements are combined with novel molecular analyses in various tissue and blood samples, as well as in primary cell culture work. During the last decade, the utilization of high-throughput and bioinformatics techniques has become an increasingly central tool in our work concurrently with the development of human primary cell culture models.

An overarching research goal is to increase the understanding of how aging and age-related diseases influence skeletal muscle mass and function, and establish biomarkers and therapeutic targets that can help to identify and treat people with or at risk of muscle deconditioning or other diseases. Within this broad theme, specific research projects examine microvascular adaptations to exercise, systemic and intrinsic factors in age-related muscle loss, the influence of sex hormones on skeletal muscle, the role of anti-inflammatory treatment in regulating muscle mass, the role of lifestyle in health and disease, and the adaptive response to various exercise and nutrients regimes in both healthy and ill individuals.

Research group leader Thomas Gustafsson


Thomas Gustafsson

Organizational unit: Division of clinical physiology

Group members

Seher AlamResearch assistant on study grant
Martin AndersonSenior researcher
Karin BoumaLecturer
Mona EsbjörnssonSenior researcher
Rodrigo Fernandez GonzaloAssistant professor
Helene FischerSenior researcher
Thomas GustafssonSenior researcher
Eva JanssonProfessor, senior
Tomas JogestrandAssociated
Mats LiljaPhD student
Alen LovricResearch assistant
Tommy LundbergSenior researcher
Mirko MandicPhD student
Michael MelinPhD student
Barbara NormanSenior researcher
Karl OlssonGraduate Student
Lena PerssonLecturer
Mikaela QvarfordtAssociated
Anette RickenlundAssociated
Eric RullmanSenior researcher
Håkan RundqvistResearch assistant
Amarjit SainiAssistant professor
Viktoria SkottAssociated
Anna StrömbergAssociated
Carl Johan SundbergProfessor
Patrik SundbladDocent
Moa ThorinDepartment administrator
Maria WesterståhlSenior lecturer
Anna WiikSenior researcher

Research techniques

  • Work capacity and physical activity (VO2, accelerometers, heart rate)
  • Body and muscle composition (DEXA, MR, CT, Ultrasound)
  • Muscle function and performance (Biodex)
  • Adipose and skeletal muscle biopsies
  • Blood sampling
  • Microdialysis
  • Atrial-venous catheterization
  • Ultrasound (cardiac and vascular system)
  • DNA (SNP, Methylation)
  • RNA/miRNA, (PCR, microarray, RNA-seq)
  • Protein expression and localization (western blotting, ELISA, confocal microscopy)
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Cell culture


External funding

Swedish Medical Research Council, Heart lung foundation, Wallenberg Foundation, ALF, Magnus Bervall Foundation, KI foundation, Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports, Swedish Society for Medical Research, European Union,  ALF, Tornspirans stiftelse, Lars Hiertas minnesfond

Teaching assignments

Lecturing, laboratory teaching and examiner in the basic courses for nurse student, physical therapists students, biomedical science students, naprapathy student, medical students as well as in post graduate courses

Teaching areas: Physiology and pathophysiology in cardiopulmovascular, renal and gastrointestinal systems and in exercise an environmental physiology. Pathology in peripheral arterial diseases, myocardial ischemia and conductance disorders in the heart. Technology in ultrasonographic investigation of the cardiovascular system and use of this technique in the clinic. 

Selected publications

Bone marrow derived cells in adult skeletal muscle tissue in humans.
Strömberg A, Jansson M, Fischer H, Rullman E, Hägglund H, Gustafsson T
Skelet Muscle 2013 May;3(1):12

Modifications of skeletal muscle ryanodine receptor type 1 and exercise intolerance in heart failure.
Rullman E, Andersson D, Melin M, Reiken S, Mancini D, Marks A, et al
J. Heart Lung Transplant. 2013 Sep;32(9):925-9

Resistance to aerobic exercise training causes metabolic dysfunction and reveals novel exercise-regulated signaling networks.
Lessard S, Rivas D, Alves-Wagner A, Hirshman M, Gallagher I, Constantin-Teodosiu D, et al
Diabetes 2013 Aug;62(8):2717-27

Molecular networks of human muscle adaptation to exercise and age.
Phillips B, Williams J, Gustafsson T, Bouchard C, Rankinen T, Knudsen S, et al
PLoS Genet. 2013 Mar;9(3):e1003389

New records in aerobic power among octogenarian lifelong endurance athletes.
Trappe S, Hayes E, Galpin A, Kaminsky L, Jemiolo B, Fink W, et al
J. Appl. Physiol. 2013 Jan;114(1):3-10

AgeingCell BiologyMetabolismPhysical activity