Experimental Medical Science

Faculty of Medicine | Lund University


Lung Biology

Welcome to the Lung Biology Group!

Most of the time you probably do not even notice it, but twelve to twenty times per minute, day after day, you breathe. Your lungs expand and contract, supplying life-sustaining oxygen to your body. When breathing you expose your lungs to potentially harmful particles. These particles can come from car exhaust, cigarette smoke, microorganisms, or other pollutants. This stress calls for a well-structured and functioning defense system with a delicate balance between tissue destruction, apoptosis, repair, and regeneration. Most of the time your body has no problem handling these irritants. However, sometimes it goes wrong.

The ability to cope with environmental stress vary between different individuals related to genetic background, age and level of exposure. Prolonged exposure can lead to chronic inflammatory lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome. These are all diseases that severely affect quality of life. The effectiveness of current treatments is limited to decrease symptoms and delay disease progression.

The objective of our research is to contribute to an increased understanding of the mechanisms behind inflammatory pulmonary diseases. This knowledge is important not only from a basic research perspective but also from a clinical point of view. Our goal is also to find new markers for early diagnosis and new targets for the treatment of chronic inflammatory lung diseases.

Please read more about our ongoing projects.

News 2018

We want to help the lung to repair itself


ERS Lung Science Conference

Cell-matrix interactions in lung disease and regeneration

8-11 March, Estoril, Portugal

The Lung biology group was be represented by Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson, Catharina Müller, Anna-Karin Larsson Callerfelt, Oskar Hallgren, Måns Kadefors and Linda Elowsson Rendin.

Catharina Müller won the ”William MacNee Awards” for ERS Young Investigators. Congratulations!

catharina pris


2018 has started really brilliant when coming to new publications from the group!

Rosmark O, Åhrman E, Müller C, Elowsson Rendin L, Eriksson L, Malmström A, Hallgren O, Larsson-Callerfelt A-K, Westergren-Thorsson G, Malmström J. Quantifying extracellular matrix turnover in human lung scaffold cultures. Scientific Reports, 2018.

Emma Åhrman, Oskar Hallgren, Lars Malmström, Ulf Hedström, Anders Malmström, Leif Bjermer, Xiao-Hong Zhou, Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson and Johan Malmström. Quantitative proteomic characterization of the lung extracellular matrix in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Journal of Proteomics, 2018.

Hedström U, Hallgren O, Öberg L, DeMicco A, Vaarala O, Westergern-Thorsson G and Zhou X. Bronchial extracellular matrix from COPD patients induces altered gene expression in repopulated primary human bronchial epithelial cells. Scientific Report, 2018.

Anna Löfdahl, Kristina Rydell-Törmänen, Anna-Karin Larsson-Callerfelt, Christina Wenglén and Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson. Pulmonary fibrosis in vivo displays increased p21 expression reduced by 5-HT2B receptor antagonists in vitro – a potential pathway affecting proliferation. Scientific Reports, 2018.

Anna Löfdahl, Christina Wenglén, Kristina Rydell-Törmänen, Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson* and Anna-Karin Larsson-Callerfelt. Effects of 5-HT2 receptor antagonists on bronchoconstriction and pulmonary remodeling processes. American Journal of Pathology, 2018. 

Andersson CK, Weitoft M, Rydell-Törmänen K, Bjermer L, Westergren-Thorsson G, Erjefält JS. Uncontrolled asthmatics have increased FceRI+ and TGF-β-positive MCTC mast cells and collagen VI in the alveolar parenchyma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2018

News 2017

Marie Curie Post-doctoral Research Fellowships (RESPIRE 3)

Last year, six research groups at BMC in Lund applied to become a European Respiratory Society Host Center to participate in the RESPIRE3 programme, which provides more options and flexibility, through European and Global fellowships. Only pre-registered centres can potentially host prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie RESPIRE3 fellows.

The Lund University Research Center for Respiratory Medicine is a multidisciplinary translational research center with a mission to increase the understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind chronic inflammatory pulmonary diseases. Our host center is based on five solid fundaments:

  1. Clinical experimental research
  2. Lung tissue pathology using novel histological techniques
  3. Cell- and matrix biology involving tissue proteomics
  4. Translational exacerbations models of asthma and COPD
  5. Stem cell research

The European Respiratory Society has now announced that 6 researchers have been awarded the ERS/EU RESPIRE3 Post-doctoral Research Fellowship. By awarding talented scientists, ERS aims to boost the existing European network of researchers, enhancing exchange of knowledge and strengthening collaborations.

One of the awarded fellows is Sara Rolandsson Enes with her Project "MSC polarisation towards a disease-specific anti-inflammatory phenotype in severe inflammatory lung disorders". The host for this project will be Prof. Dr. Daniel Weiss, University of Vermont, Department of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont, United States of America.

To read more: https://www.ersnet.org/professional-development/fellowships/marie-curie-post-doctoral-research-fellowships-1st-round-respire-3

New publication!

Anna-Karin Larsson Callerfelt has got her article with the title ”VEGF synthesis is induced by prostacyclin and TGF-β in distal lung fibroblasts from COPD patients and control subjects: Implications for pulmonary vascular remodelling” accepted for publication in Asian Pacific Society of Respirology.

European Respiratory Society International Congress

3-7 September in Milan, Italy.

The Lung biology group will be represented by Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson, Annika Nybom, Anna-Karin Larsson Callerfelt, Oskar Hallgren and Oskar Rosmark. Gunilla will give an oral presentation on the 10th of September with the title “The extracellular matrix; the stromal cell niche plays a central role in the quest to induce lung repair in emphysema”.

The sixth annual Nordic IPF workshop

24-25 August in Lund, Sweden.

Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson had an oral presentation with the title “Cellular and Molecular mechanisms of fibrosis”.

Click here to have a look at the programme.

New publication!

Sara Rolandsson Enes and Emma Åhrman have got their article with the title ”Quantitative proteomic characterization of lung-MSC and bone marrow-MSC using DIA-mass spectrometry” accepted for publication in Scientific Report.

This publication presents an in-depth mass spectrometry-based strategy to investigate the proteomes of lung-MSC and bone marrow-MSC. The study reveals important differences within proteome and matrisome profiles between these cell types that may influence their behavior and affect the clinical outcome when used for cell-therapy.

Article published in Dagens Medicin

May 10th, an article regarding the research done in our lab on lung transplantation and rejection was published in Dagens Medicin. Getting a new lung can be the last chance for patients with certain lung diseases. With biomarkers predicting early lung rejection, more transplantations are likely to succeed. Read more in the article entitled "Ytterligare ett steg mot mer effektiva lungtransplantationer".

Early changes in the extracellular matrix - a sign of obliterative bronchiolitis?

In our research group, several persons are working with a disease called obliterative bronchitis (OB). The aim is to understand the course of the disease in a detailed manner. Something that hopefully would lead to the development of new precise treatment methods. By studying lung tissue received from pulmonary transplanted patients at different times post transplantation, the group has been able to detect specific changes in the connective tissue that precedes a later rejection of the organ. The hope is that the molecules altered before rejection can be used to diagnose patients with OB at an earlier stage and give the physician a signal to put treatment to stop the rejection reaction.

Catharina Müller is the lead author of the publication "Early extracellular matrix changes are associated with later development of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome after lung transplantation" recently accepted for publication in the journal BMJ Open Respiratory Research.

Emil Tykesson – one of the first users at BioMAX!

Through the Cross Border Network and Research Programme (MAX4ESSFUN), a sub-project within the Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak project ESS & MAX IV: Cross Border Science and Society, Emil Tykesson was given the opportunity to use the BioMAX beamline at the MAX IV Laboratory.

His research project, Biophysical Interaction between Chondroitin/Dermatan Sulfate Biosynthetic Enzymes, aims to characterize the glycosaminoglycan biosynthetic enzymes DS-epi1 and D4ST1.



Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson
Fotograf: Charlotte Carlberg Bärg

Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson 
Professor in Lung Biology
Telephone: +4646222 33 14


Click here to see Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson's published articles. 


Click here to find Gunilla's research team.


Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research

Swedish Reseach Counsil

Heart and Lung Foundation

Olle Engkvist Stiftelse

Sandberg Foundation


Kocks Stiftelse

Österlunds Stiftelse



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