Research group Eduardo Villablanca

Denna sida på svenska

Immune cell homeostasis at the intestinal barrier, PI Eduardo J. Villablanca

Czarnewski P., et al, Nutrients, 2017.

Research interests:

Mucosal Immunology, Oral tolerance, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), is a manifestation of an inappropriate inflammatory response to intestinal microorganisms in genetically susceptible individuals. IBD is a multifactorial complex disease, which is believed to originate from anomalous balance between tolerogenic and inflammatory immune responses against “self” antigens. Although substantial progress has been made over the last decade in defining the genetic architecture of IBD, there is currently no cure likely due to a yet incomplete understanding of the causes leading to IBD.

Research focus

Our lab is seeking to understand the genetic, cellular and environmental contribution towards inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) susceptibility. We have developed a research program that integrates cellular immunology, bioinformatics and the creation of novel in vivo models to ultimately interrogate the function of IBD-associated polymorphisms as well as to study host-microbiota interactions. In particular, we are trying to understand how deregulation of intestinal immune homeostasis might lead to IBD and trying to discover the function of IBD-risk genes identified by Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS). To discover the function of IBD-risk genes, we focus on biological processes that are involved at the initiation (priming of adaptive immune responses), progression (chronic inflammation) or resolution (tissue repair) of IBD. To translate genetic mutations to function, we have developed an innovative pipeline that integrate bioinformatics and animal models, including zebrafish and mouse, to ultimately validate candidate mutations in human tissues by using organoids. We aim to transform the way in which the gene-environment interactions are currently being investigated.

Team members

Martina Parigi, PhD student (2014- )

Paulo Czarnewski, PhD / Postdoc (2015- )

Srustidhar Das, PhD / Postdoc (2015- )

Chiara Sorini, PhD / Postdoc (2016- )

Oscar Perez, PhD student (2016- )

Cristian Doñas, PhD / postdoc (2017- )

Annika Frede, PhD / postdoc (2017- )

Rebeca Cardoso, PhD student (2017- )

Suvi Karvinen, Master student (2017- )

Muksheed Shaik, research tech (2017- )

Roham Parsa, PhD / postdoc (2017- )


Villablanca lab July 2016. (Left to right: Srustidhar Das, Martina Parigi, Eduardo J. Villablanca, Chiara Sorini, Oscar Perez, Paulo Czarnewski). Photo Casper W.


Selected publications

Link to all publications on PubMed here.


Abrogation of prostaglandin E2/EP4 signaling impairs the development of rag1+ lymphoid precursors in the thymus of zebrafish embryos.
Villablanca E, Pistocchi A, Court F, Cotelli F, Bordignon C, Allende M, et al
J. Immunol. 2007 Jul;179(1):357-64

Tumor-mediated liver X receptor-alpha activation inhibits CC chemokine receptor-7 expression on dendritic cells and dampens antitumor responses.
Villablanca E, Raccosta L, Zhou D, Fontana R, Maggioni D, Negro A, et al
Nat. Med. 2010 Jan;16(1):98-105

Blocking lymphocyte localization to the gastrointestinal mucosa as a therapeutic strategy for inflammatory bowel diseases.
Villablanca E, Cassani B, von Andrian U, Mora J
Gastroenterology 2011 May;140(6):1776-84

Gut-tropic T cells that express integrin α4β7 and CCR9 are required for induction of oral immune tolerance in mice.
Cassani B, Villablanca E, Quintana F, Love P, Lacy-Hulbert A, Blaner W, et al
Gastroenterology 2011 Dec;141(6):2109-18

Gut immune maturation depends on colonization with a host-specific microbiota.
Chung H, Pamp S, Hill J, Surana N, Edelman S, Troy E, et al
Cell 2012 Jun;149(7):1578-93

MyD88 and retinoic acid signaling pathways interact to modulate gastrointestinal activities of dendritic cells.
Villablanca E, Wang S, de Calisto J, Gomes D, Kane M, Napoli J, et al
Gastroenterology 2011 Jul;141(1):176-85

Vitamin A and immune regulation: role of retinoic acid in gut-associated dendritic cell education, immune protection and tolerance.
Cassani B, Villablanca E, De Calisto J, Wang S, Mora J
Mol. Aspects Med. 2012 Feb;33(1):63-76

β7 integrins are required to give rise to intestinal mononuclear phagocytes with tolerogenic potential.
Villablanca E, De Calisto J, Torregrosa Paredes P, Cassani B, Nguyen D, Gabrielsson S, et al
Gut 2014 Sep;63(9):1431-40

Breast Milk and Solid Food Shaping Intestinal Immunity.
Parigi S, Eldh M, Larssen P, Gabrielsson S, Villablanca E
Front Immunol 2015 ;6():415

Vitamin A and immune regulation: role of retinoic acid in gut-associated dendritic cell education, immune protection and tolerance.
Cassani B, Villablanca E, De Calisto J, Wang S, Mora J
Mol. Aspects Med. 2012 Feb;33(1):63-76

Mechanisms of Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Peloquin J, Goel G, Villablanca E, Xavier R
Annu. Rev. Immunol. 2016 05;34():31-64

Intestinal epithelial cell-specific RARα depletion results in aberrant epithelial cell homeostasis and underdeveloped immune system.
Jijon H, Suarez-Lopez L, Diaz O, Das S, De Calisto J, Yaffe M, et al
Mucosal Immunol 2018 May;11(3):703-715

Flt3 ligand expands bona fide innate lymphoid cell precursors in vivo.
Parigi S, Czarnewski P, Das S, Steeg C, Brockmann L, Fernandez-Gaitero S, et al
Sci Rep 2018 Jan;8(1):154

Open positions

We always want to get in touch with highly motivated students and potential post-docs. If you are interested in doing research within our group please contact the group leader Eduardo Villablanca