Liver Systems Medicine

striving to develop non-invasive methods for diagnosing and treating NAFLD by combining mathematical modeling and biological research.

Welcome to the LiSyM Network

Liver Systems Medicine, or LiSyM, is a multidisciplinary research network, in which molecular and cell biologists, clinical researchers, pharmacologists and experts in mathematical modeling examine the liver in its entirety.
They want to answer questions about the origin and progression of the metabolic liver disease non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). What initiates NAFLD? How does it develop? How can we improve diagnosis and treatment? More about our work

In LiSyM, 37 research groups at 23 scientific centers and institutions located around Germany have joined forces to tackle some of the most complex problems of the human body. More about us

LiSyM Research

Research focuses on the four key, yet overlapping themes of the pillars. Four junior groups also address specific research topics.

Early Metabolic Injury

When does a fatty liver actually develop a disorder?

Chronic Liver Disease Progression

When connective tissue replaces functioning liver cells

Regeneration and Repair in Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure (ACLF)

Liver failure after a long illness: Can it be prevented? Can the liver recover?

Liver Function Diagnostics

Develops computer-based diagnostic tools to help detect and assess changed liver functions early.


New Insights into Bile Secretion in the Liver

6 August 2020
In Germany, as many as five million people suffer from liver diseases. The liver is a resilient and complex organ, and currently we do not understand enough, not even about its most basic functions. In a study funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), LiSyM team members in Dortmund at IfADo (Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors) provide fundamentally new insights into the production and transport of bile through 'canaliculi' in the liver. Their results show that the canaliculi contain a stagnant fluid, and bile constituents pass through this fluid by diffusion. These findings overturn long-standing assumptions about how the liver secretes bile. Their results have been published in Hepatology.

"Our new findings require a scientific debate in liver research, which will lead to an adjustment of the doctrine to the new observation. It is to be hoped that this will lead to long-term progress in the treatment of liver diseases", summarizes Dr. Nachiket Vartak, junior group leader in the LiSyM research program.

Press release (English):

Press release (German):

Explainer Video:

Publication: Vartak, N. et al.: Intravital dynamic and correlative imaging reveals diffusion-dominated canalicular and flow-augmented ductular bile flux. Hepatology 2020. doi: 10.1002/hep.31422

Loss of hepatic Mboat7 leads to liver fibrosis

July 2020
LiSyM researchers find that deficiency in MBOAT7 causes liver fibrosis with no apparent inflammation
In collaboration with other key research partners, members of the LiSyM Network investigated the role played by MBOAT7 rs641738C>T – a variant of the MBOAT7 (membrane-bound O-acyltransferase domain containing 7) protein – in the origin and development of NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease). They conclude that an MBOAT7 deficiency leads to the development of liver fibrosis without inflammation via a pathway that may be mediated by lipid signaling. Ultimately, this knowledge could lead to improved treatments of NAFLD.

Their study is based on the analysis of mice with hepatocyte-specific MBOAT7 deletion, of associations between the rs641738C>T genotype and liver inflammation and fibrosis in 846 NAFLD patients as well as genotype-specific liver lipidomes from 280 human biopsies.

See publication:

The Holy Grail of Systems Biology

19 February 2020
LiSyM director Professor Dr. med. Peter Jansen believes that mathematical models are indispensable for the research of biological systems.
Human bodies are complex biological systems, with countless reactions taking place in every cell. These reactions are sometimes interconnected or have an impact on further processes. Furthermore, cells, tissue, and organs are closely connected. Professor Dr. med. Peter Jansen, director of the LiSyM research network, believes that the research of systems like these, which consist of multilayered processes, interactions, and dependencies, needs mathematical models.
Only models that simulate biological systems on computers make it possible to assemble the existing mass of heterogeneous data into dynamic reproductions in a meaningful way. Mathematical models enable systems researchers to deliver results more quickly and successfully. The idea that digital computers can play an essential role in this research is older than the machines themselves.
Read the article

Better diagnosis of NAFLD with 3D model of human liver tissue

11 December 2019
LiSyM researchers create geometrical and functional liver model for improved diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
In collaboration with international researchers, members of the Liver Systems Medicine research network have developed the technology and knowledge to generate 3D geometrical and functional models of human liver tissue at different stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD. With these high definition models, cellular and tissue markers can be quantified to define how far NAFLD has progressed in individual patients and thereby improve medical diagnoses markedly.
To press release

SBMC 2020

The LiSyM network continues to organize the biennial SBMC Conference. In 2020 the 8th SBMC Conference will take place in Heidelberg.

Visit the SBMC 2020 website

Research with liver tissue has a long tradition and has been the basis of the discipline of biochemistry. Over the years this research has yielded a wealth of stored quantifiable data. In Systems Medicine these data are re-used to integrate with new data as to develop multi-scale computational models that help in understanding the complexity of metabolism and its derangement in human diseases.
This should lead to a more personalised type of medicine, earlier diagnosis and new therapies

Peter Jansen