Helena Aro’s research focuses on how bacteria can affect human host cell cycle and how bacteria evade the innate immune response. The effect of host cell growth and its regulation during bacterial adherence and invasion is important since small changes in the regulation of cellular growth may impair the protection capacity of the epithelial barrier and also increase the possibilities of acquiring defects in DNA repair mechanisms and cancer. There is growing recognition that infection with pathogenic bacteria plays an important role in cancer development. Especially, long-term bacterial infections and inflammation can lead to cell damage and cancer development. Further, we investigate how bacteria can escape and survive the attack of neutrophils. We have shown that bacteria hitchhike on neutrophils that lead to increased spread and trancytosis to sub-epithelial linings.

We need to know much more about the molecular mechanisms of how bacteria interact with host target cells during infection and how the cell cycle regulation and vitality of the epithelial cell barrier. It is also of great importance of basic science how the line of first defense is bypassed in severe infections at the epithelial cell border.




Bacterial infections, cell cycle regulation, infection, microbiology, microbial pathogenesis 


Selected publications

Vielfort, K., Söderholm, N., Weyler, L., Vare, D., Löfmark, S., & Aro, H. (2013). Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection causes DNA damage and affects the expression of p21, p27 and p53 in non-tumor epithelial cells. J Cell Sci. 126:339-47

Vielfort, K., Weyler, L., Söderholm, N., Engelbrecht, M., Löfmark, S., & Aro, H. (2013). Lactobacillus decelerates cervical epithelial cell cycle progression. PLoS One. 8(5):e63592

Basmarke-Wehelie, R., Sjölinder, H., Jurkowski, W., Elofsson, A., Arnqvist, A., Engstrand, L., Hagner, M., Wallin, E., Guan, N., Kuranasekera, H., Aro, H., & Jonsson, AB. (2011). The complement regulator CD46 is bactericidal to Helicobacter pylori and blocks urease activity. Gastroenterology. 141(3):918-28

Löfmark, S., de Klerk, N., & Aro, H. (2011). Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection induces altered amphiregulin processing and release. PLoS One. 6(1):e16369

Söderholm, N., Vielfort, K., Hultenby, K., & Aro, H. (2011). Pathogenic Neisseria hitchhike on the uropod of human neutrophils. PLoS One. 6(9):e24353