De Duve Institute

Liver & Pancreas Development



Group Leader
Frédéric Lemaigre
Patrick Jacquemin

Contact
Frédéric Lemaigre
de Duve Institute and Université catholique de Louvain
LPAD - B1.75.03, Avenue Hippocrate 75, 1st floor
B-1200 Brussels
phone: 32 (0)2 764 75 83 (direct)
           32 (0)2 764 75 29 (secretariat)
fax: 32 (0)2 764 75 07
e-mail: Frederic Lemaigre
           Patrick Jacquemin


Group members >

Research topics

The group studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern development of the liver and pancreas , two organs which play essential metabolic roles and which derive from the endoderm (primitive gut of the embryo). The fundamental knowledge gained by this work is essential for improving cell therapy of liver and pancreas diseases (metabolic disease, acute hepatitis, cirrhosis, diabetes), and for understanding the pathophysiology of organ malformations (polycystic disease). Identifying developmental mechanisms also impacts on understanding abnormal differentiation of liver and pancreatic cancer cells.

1. Liver development: During liver development, hepatoblasts (the liver progenitor cells), differentiate into hepatocytes which exert the metabolic functions of the liver, and into biliary cells which delineate the bile ducts. We study how the hepatocytes and biliary cells differentiate and how bile ducts are formed in the embryo and in human patients with biliary malformations.

2. Pancreas development: Pancreas precursor cells give rise to the main cell types of the pancreas: endocrine cells which include insulin-producing cells, exocrine cells which secrete digestive enzymes, and ductal cells which delineate the pancreatic ducts that drain the exocrine secretions to the intestine. We investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control the differentiation of cells in normal pancreas and in cancer.