Otto Loewi Forschungszentrum

Research focus: Metabolism and the gut

PI: Gunther Marsche

Focus: The main research interest of my research team is to understand the role of high density lipoproteins (HDL) in inflammatory diseases. Lipoproteins are primarily known for their ability to deliver nutrients, but HDL also interacts with immune cells, macrophages, and endothelial cells - key players in both the innate and adaptive immune systems. HDL supports bacterial toxin clearance, promotes steroid synthesis, and increases the endothelial barrier through antioxidant/anti-inflammatory activities. We seek to understand why HDL may lose its protective effects in inflammatory diseases. To this end, we are studying the complex composition of HDL and measuring its diverse functionalities.

Network: We have collaborations with the Division of Physiological Chemistry (Gerhard Cvirn), the Division of Physiology (Nandu Goswami), the Division of Immunology and Pathophysiology (Sandra Holasek), the Division of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (Sasa Frank), the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Rudolf Stauber und Vanessa Stadlbauer-Köllner), the Department of Internal Medicine (Philipp Eller), the Department of Dermatology and Venereology (Peter Wolf) and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Christian Wadsack).


Influence of preeclampsia on lipid metabolism

  • HDL represents the major cholesterol-bearing lipoprotein class in human umbilical cord blood, whereas in maternal serum cholesterol is mainly carried by low-density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL promotes numerous beneficial effects on the vasculature, including attenuation of the inflammatory response in vascular endothelium and immune cells and stimulation of endothelial nitric oxide production. This project will investigate the effects of hypertension in pregnancy on HDL composition and function.
  • Duration: 2018-2022
  • Funded by: FWF
  • Project partner: Christina Christoffersen (Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)


Function and composition of HDL in allergy and skin disease

  • Despite strong evidence that HDL modulates the immune response, the role of HDL in allergy and skin disease is poorly understood. Functional impairment of HDL in patients may inadequately suppress inflammation and cell infiltration. This project will investigate the effect of allergy on HDL composition and function.
  • Duration: 2016-2021
  • Funded by: FWF
  • Project partner: Peter Wolf (Universitätsklinik für Dermatologie und Venerologie)


Immune cell modulation by lysophospholipids

  • Eosinophils are important, versatile effector cells involved in allergic inflammation. Following allergen exposure, eosinophils and other immune cells release secreted phospholipases that form lysophosphatidylcholines (LPCs). LPCs are potent lipid mediators, and serum levels of LPCs are associated with asthma severity, suggesting regulatory activity of LPCs in asthma development. This project will investigate direct effects of LPCs on eosinophils.
  • Duration: 2016-2021
  • Funded by: FWF
  • Project partner: Bruce S. Bochner (Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Division of Pharmacology

Assoz.-Prof. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr.
Gunther Marsche 
T: +43 316 385 74128