Photo of Åsa Keita

Åsa Keita

Principal Research Engineer, Docent

Associate professor in Experimental gastroenterology.
My research involves studying the interactions between the enteric nervous system, immune
cells and the barrier function and studying the connection between the gut, its gut flora and the brain.

Research on IBS and IBD

Studies of neuro-immune interactions and regulation of barrier function in IBS and inflammatory bowel disease, IBD.

The intestine is continuously exposed to different substances, either via the food or the microbiota. The ability to allow absorption of nutrients and fluids but simultaneously prevent harmful substances from passing through the epithelium is defined as intestinal barrier function. Research from my group and others has shown that patients with IBS and IBD have a disturbed barrier function with an increased passage of bacteria and other harmful substances. IBS is a chronic functional intestinal disorder characterised by diarrhea constipation and pain, often combined with fatigue and depression. IBD is a chronic intestinal disease, which in contrast to IBS, includes an inflammation of the intestinal mucosa. IBD is associated with abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss.

My research focuses on studies of the mucosal interactions involving immune cells, such as mast cells, eosinophils and the enteric glial cells, and the enteric nervous system. Among others, I have focused on the neuropeptide VIP, which has shown to be involved in the regulation of the intestinal barrier in both IBS and IBD. Further, I aim to connect the gut findings with measurements of the brain, and in addition try to connect this to the patient´s own microbiota.

MIIC Postdoctoral programShow/Hide content

Medical Inflammation and Infection Center is seeking postdoctoral fellows

Post doc project: “The roles of Enteric glial cells in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and inactive ulcerative colitis”

In this project we aim to study the importance of enteric glial cells (EGC) and their roles in intestinal barrier function and interaction with immune cells, nerves and bacteria in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and patients with inactive ulcerative colitis (UC).

Since the project involves isolation of cells from intestinal tissues and cell culturing, the applicant should have experience from working with in vitro cell culture methodologies. Moreover, applicant should have knowledge in immunofluorescence and fluorescence/confocal microscopy as well as Western blot technique. A knowledge in gastroenterology, neuro-immune interactions of the gut and intestinal permeability is meriting.

PublicationsShow/Hide content


Christine L. Zimmer, Erik von Seth, Marcus Buggert, Otto Strauss, Laura Hertwig, Son Nguyen, Alicia Y. W. Wong, Chiara Zotter, Lena Berglin, Jakob Michaelsson, Marcus Reuterwall Hansson, Urban Arnelo, Ernesto Sparrelid, Ewa C. S. Ellis, Johan D Söderholm, Åsa Keita, Kristian Holm, Volkan Ozenci, Johannes R. Hov, Jeff E. Mold, Martin Cornillet, Andrea Ponzetta, Annika Bergquist, Niklas K. Bjorkstrom (2021) A biliary immune landscape map of primary sclerosing cholangitis reveals a dominant network of neutrophils and tissue-resident T cells Science Translational Medicine , Vol. 13 Continue to DOI

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