Inflammation and metabolism – Nicolas Pillon's team

Our goal is to understand how immune responses contribute to metabolic health.

Divergent inflammatory responses in skeletal muscle: contributions to physical activity and metabolic diseases.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are complex multifactorial diseases driven by numerous inherited predispositions and environmental factors. Lifestyle interventions consisting of changes in dietary habits and physical activity are the most efficient strategies to delay the development of metabolic diseases but are often insufficient.

Inadequate activation of the immune system is a core component of metabolic diseases. Our research therefore aims at identifying elements of the immune system that could be leveraged to improve metabolic health.

Meta-analyses of skeletal muscle inflammation and metabolism.

Using bioinformatic approaches to take advantage of the massive amount of data available in public repositories, we generate databases to uncover the molecular response of skeletal muscle to exercise and type 2 diabetes ( The statistical power obtained from such approaches helps identify previously uncharacterised targets and pathways associated with physical activity, metabolic inflammation, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Identification of molecules regulating skeletal muscle inflammation and metabolism.

Skeletal muscle becomes inflamed under metabolic stress and after exercise and releases cytokines and small soluble factors acting on remote tissues to regulate whole body energy homeostasis. The role of these factors on skeletal muscle inflammation and metabolism and their molecular mechanisms of action are explored using in vitro cultures of primary human skeletal muscle cells and in vivo models of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

An illustration over inflammation and metabolism
Inflammation and metabolism

Figure. Cross-talks between skeletal muscle and the immune system regulate metabolic inflammation and health. Molecules and cytokines can be released by either immune cells or myocytes during exercise, obesity or type 2 diabetes and reach multiple organs. Understanding the exact roles and mechanisms of action of soluble molecules on inflammatory pathways, glucose and lipid metabolism can open new perspectives for improving metabolic health.


MetaMEx: Meta-analysis of skeletal muscle response to exercise (


Selected publications

All publications from group members


Funding - current

  • European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD) / Novo Nordisk Fonden
  • Strategic research program in Diabetes and the Karolinska Institutet
  • Diabetes Wellness Sverige
  • Forska Utan Djurforsök

 Funding – past

  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, European Commission
  • O. E. och Edla Johanssons vetenskapliga stiftelse
  • Sigurd och Elsa Goljes Foundation
  • Lars Hiertas Minne Foundation
  • Magnus Bergvalls Foundation

Members and contact

Group leader

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Visiting address

Karolinska Institutet, Physiology and Pharmacology, Biomedicum C4, Stockholm, 171 11, Sweden