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.