Functions of steroids and steroid-metabolizing enzymes for hormonal signalling and cellular viability

This research concerns steroids involved in hormonal signalling, sex hormone biosynthesis and brain function. The studies are focused on physiological and pharmacological control of steroid levels, effects of metabolic events and regulation of gene expression. The project concerns endogenous steroids, including vitamin D, steroid drugs and drugs affecting steroid hormone receptors. The studies include mechanisms of importance for estrogenic and androgenic signalling. Enzymes that regulate the concentration of neuroactive steroids in the brain may be future targets for therapy of importance for abnormal cell growth, immune function or in neurodegenerative conditions. Some of our current studies involve enzymes and genes of importance for the levels of neurosteroids in neurons and glial cells. Regulation of hormone metabolism in the nervous system by endogenous steroids and pharmaceutical compounds is also studied.

Steroids may affect growth and differentiation in several tissues. Thus properties of steroids may be of interest in a wide range of normal and disease conditions, e g in neuroprotection or cancer therapy. We study effects of steroids such as enzymatically formed oxysterols (cholesterol derivatives), hormones including vitamin D and vitamin D-like compounds on cellular survival and growth. These studies particularly focus on cells of the central nervous system. 

External collaborators: Åsa Fex-Svenningsen, University of Odense, Karin Forsberg-Nilsson, Dept. of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, UU, John Flanagan, KI, Tai Chen, Boston University, Atsushi Kittaka, Teikyo university, Tokyo, Hector DeLuca, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Joseph Samec, Stockholm university