Jens Leipziger


Our group studies the molecular physiology of transporting epithelia. Defective transport across the epithelial barrier is the basis of many common diseases such as hypertension, renal salt wasting and diarrhea. Our focus is directed towards all aspects of the cellular mechanisms of ion transport across the epithelial barrier. As such, we are interested in how ions and substances move across the plasma membrane, which transporting molecules permit this process and how the process is regulated. We study the transport processes in the kidney with special emphasis on the thick ascending limb and the collecting duct. In terms of ion homeostasis, the kidneys and the intestine are parallel organs. We have a long standing research track to study ion transport in the intestine. Here we address the cellular mechanism and regulation of exocrine secretion in the distal colon. An overarching theme of our research is the role of extracellular ATP as auto- and paracrine signaling molecule in the regulation of ion transport (purinergic signaling). We have discovered that all transporting epithelia express apical and basolateral ATP receptors (purinergic). We have defined the luminal fluid compartment of epithelia as an extracellular signaling space, in which regulation of renal and intestinal ion transport takes place. We have also discovered that the primary cilium of renal epithelial cells functions as tubular flow sensor involved the epithelial ATP release.

Research interests

  • Purinergic signaling in renal and intestinal epithelia
  • Molecular mechanism of epithelial ion transport
  • The cellular mechanism of ATP release
  • The large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel and intestinal K+ secretion
  • The primary cilium as flow sensing organelle in the renal tubule
  • P2X receptors and their mechanism to regulate renal epithelial transport
  • Acid base transporters in the thick ascending limb


  • Electrophysiologcial methods to quantify ion transport: Ussing chamber, transepithelial electrical measurements in renal tubules
  • Perfusion of isolated renal tubules
  • Fluorescence life cell/tissue imaging to measure intracellular ion concentrations (e.g. Ca2+, H+)
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Biosensors and other methods and to detect extracellular ATP (e.g. luminometry)
  • Standard molecular biology techniques (RT-PCR, semi-quantitative PCR, genotyping, etc.)
  • Radioimmunoassay to quantify plasma hormone concentrations
  • Knock-out mice, metabolic balance studies, telemetry
  • Other supportive techniques

Collaborators and centres

  • Prof. Markus Bleich, Inst. für Physiologie, Christian Albrechts University Kiel, Germany
  • Dr. Peter Hanley, Inst. for Molecular Cell Biology, University of Münster, Germany
  • Prof. Asher Shainberg, The Mina & Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
  • Prof. Robert Unwin, Nephrology, University College London Royal Free Hospital, UK
  • Prof. Michael Köttgen, Nephrology University of Freiburg, Germany
  • Prof. Jan Loffing, Anatomy, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • Prof. Peter Ruth, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Pharmaceutical Institute University of Tübingen, Germany
  • MEMBRANES (Research Excellence Center at AU, to be installed)
  • Prof. Helle A. Praetorius, Prof. Christian Aalkjaer, Ass. Prof. Ebbe Bødtkjær, Department of Biomedicine, AU

Research group members

  • Rita Maria Delgado Silva Marques, PhD student
  • Pauline de Bruijn, PhD student
  • Casper K. Larsen, PhD student
  • Thomas Pudlarz, visiting medical student
  • Edith B. Møller, technician
  • all local collaborators of Helle A. Praetorius' group  

Group leader

Jens Georg Leipziger

H bldg. 1160, 227
P +4587167731
P +4560202760


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