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Ulrika Islander


Ulrika Islander

Postal Address: Su sahlgrenska, 41345 Göteborg
Visiting Address: Vita stråket su , 41345 Göteborg

Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition at Institute of Medicine (More Information)
SU Sahlgrenska
413 45 Göteborg
Fax: +46 317863101
Visiting Address: Vita stråket SU , 413 45 Göteborg

About Ulrika Islander

Title: PhD, Associate professor

Ulrika Islander graduated 2002 from the University of Lund with a MSc degree in Molecular biology with focus on immunology. In 2007 she received a PhD in Rheumatology at the University of Gothenburg, and in 2015 she became Associate Professor in Immunology at the Sahlgrenska academy. During 2017-2018 she performed a sabbatical research period at the Institute of Immunobiology in St Gallen, Switzerland to learn about stromal immunology. Her research focuses on identifying immunological mechanisms responsible for mediating the sex differences observed in immune responses during inflammatory conditions including autoimmunity, asthma and infections. Her research is funded by several major national and international research funding bodies including the Swedish Research Council, the Novo Nordisk foundation and ALF.

Main Research

Effects of estrogen on the immune system in arthritis and osteoporosis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease resulting in joint inflammation. The peak incidence of RA in women coincides with the time of menopause and RA is highly associated with development of osteoporosis. Treatment with 17-estradiol (estrogen) is beneficial both by reducing inflammation and protecting against bone loss in RA, but it is not recommended as therapy due to severe side effects. Th17 cells are involved in the pathogenesis of both arthritis and osteoporosis. The effects of estrogen on Th17 cells are largely unknown, however recent studies from Ulrika Islanders research group strongly support involvement of Th17 cells in the RA-reducing effects of estrogen. The aims of this project are to:

1. identify the mechanisms underlying both positive and negative effects of estrogen in RA to provide opportunities for development of new therapies

2.explore a possible new technique to predict early development of osteoporosis in postmenopausal RA patients using data from a clinical study

Group members working in this project:
• Julia Scheffler, PhD – researcher
• Christina Drevinge, PhD - post-doctoral research fellow

Intracellular interactions between estrogen- and adenosine-signaling in osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disabling disease where the joint cartilage is destroyed, leading to pain and loss of joint function. The importance of inflammation in OA pathogenesis has gained increasing attention during recent years, however the specific mechanisms involved in the disease initiation and progression needs to be clarified. Women have a higher risk of developing OA compared to men and epidemiological studies suggest that estrogen may play an important role. Adenosine is an endogenously produced molecule that can exert both pro- and anti-inflammatory effects in the joints, regulated by signaling through different adenosine receptors. It has been shown that mice lacking adenosine receptor A2A spontaneously develop OA, with milder disease symptoms in female compared to male mice. Interestingly, it has been shown that estrogen can modulate the cellular expression of adenosine receptors. The aims of this project are to:

1. determine how estrogen- and adenosine-receptors modulate each other in immune cells during OA development

2. define how these pathways can be targeted for development of new OA therapies

Group members working in this project:
• Carmen Corciulo, PhD - post-doctoral research fellow

Effects of estrogen on immune responses during airway inflammation

Sex hormones affect the development and function of the immune system, which can be illustrated by a stronger immune response in females towards e.g. influenza virus infections and by the increased risk for females to develop asthma. The specific mechanisms underlying the sex differences in immune responses during airway inflammation is not clear. However, it is well known that estrogen can display either stimulatory and inhibitory effects on different parts of the immune system depending on the settings. For example, estrogen stimulates the secretion of antibodies from B cells but decreases the production of different pro-inflammatory cytokines. The aims of this project are to:

1. define the specific mechanisms involved in the effects of estrogen on allergen- and virus-induced airway inflammation

2. determine the importance of stromal cells in primary and secondary lymphoid organs for the estrogen-mediated regulation of immune responses


  • Swedish Research Council
  • Novo Nordisk foundation
  • ALF (grant from the Swedish state under the agreement between the Swedish government and the county councils)
  • Swedish society of Rheumatism
  • Professor Nanna Swartz foundation
  • IngaBritt och Arne Lundbergs foundation
  • Cornells foundation
  • Gustaf V 80-year foundation

Educational activities

Course coordinator for the PhD course ”Immunological and molecular biology laboratory techniques - 5hec (SM00034) at the Institute of Medicine.


Ulrika Islander collaborates with several international and national research groups in immunology, endocrinology and bone physiology, and is also associated with the research collaboration center “Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research” (www.cbar.gu.se) at the Institute of medicine, University of Gothenburg.

Major grants, awards and nominations

2019: Awarded a 4-year position as Research Fellow at the Sahlgrenska academy (also including research project funding of 2,500,000 SEK / 4 years)
2019: Nominated by the Vice Chancellor at the University of Gothenburg to Wallenberg Academy Fellow
2018: Received funding from the IngaBritt and Arne Lundberg Foundation for a confocal microscope adapted for live cell imaging (3,000,000 SEK)
2017: Received a project grant from ALF VG-region (1,200,000 SEK / 3 years)
2016: Received a “Starting grant” from the Swedish Research Council
(6,000,000 SEK / 4 years)
2016: Awarded an “Excellence project award” for young researchers in Endocrinology from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (6,000,000 SEK / 5 years)
2016: Granted the Hasselblad Foundation award for female scientists in natural sciences (1,000,000 SEK)

Read more

Seven researchers can purchase advanced equipment, thanks to grants from the Lundberg Foundation

Ulrika Islander receives a one million kronor grant for continued research qualification from the Hasselblad Foundation

The Novo Nordisk Foundation makes a major investment in Ulrika Islander’s research


Latest publications

Pasteurized Akkermansia muciniphila protects from fat mass gain but not from bone loss
Lina Lawenius, Julia M. Scheffler, Karin L. Gustafsson, Petra Henning, Karin H. Nilsson et al.
American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, Journal article 2020
Journal article

Showing 1 - 10 of 43


Pasteurized Akkermansia muciniphila protects from fat mass gain but not from bone loss
Lina Lawenius, Julia M. Scheffler, Karin L. Gustafsson, Petra Henning, Karin H. Nilsson et al.
American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, Journal article 2020
Journal article




Showing 1 - 10 of 43

Page Manager: Karin Allander|Last update: 9/19/2019

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