dr. Helena Degroote (MD, PhD)

CRIG member
Helena Degroote

Hepatologist - Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (UZ Gent)
Postdoctoral researcher - Hepatology Research Unit , Dept. of Hepatology & Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Fac. Medicine and Health Science (UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Anja Geerts (MD, PhD)


Research focus

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an inflammation-related cancer, developing in a background of chronic liver damage, progression to scarring or fibrosis and eventually tumoral lesions. The research work is focused on characterization of the tumoral micro-environment in frequently used HCC mouse models, and mainly the proportion and transcriptional profile of tumor-associated macrophages as well-known key players of cancer-related inflammation and a promising target for immunotherapy. These insights are useful to further unravel sequential pathogenic events during HCC progression and direct future development of new targeted treatment strategies for advanced HCC.

The clinical research is related to investigate the outcome of more extended selection criteria for liver transplantation in patients with HCC. To date, organ allocation for HCC is based on the Milan criteria, setting limits to the number and size of nodules eligible for liver transplantation. The results of this research are of great importance because currently oncological patients may unjustified no longer qualify for potentially curative treatment. But, it also has ethical implications, given the shortage of organ donors and the possible influence on the waiting time of non-oncological patients. This is an important topic within the transplant community and this research may influence the evolution of current decision-making.


Helena Degroote is physician at the department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology of the University Hospital Ghent in Belgium. Her main interest, both clinical and scientific, is in the field of HCC and liver transplantation. Since 2021 she is postdoctoral researcher at the Hepatology Research Unit (University of Ghent).

Key publications

  • Characterization of the inflammatory microenvironment and hepatic macrophage subsets in experimental hepatocellular carcinoma models. Oncotarget, 2021 (PMID: 33796224)
  • Nox1 inhibition attenuates the development of a pro-tumorgenic micro-environment in experimental hepatocellular carcinoma. J Exp Clin Cancer Res, 2021 (PMID: 33485364)
  • Extended criteria for liver transplantation in hepatocellular carcinoma. A retrospective, multicentric validation study in Belgium. Surg Oncol, 2020 (PMID: 31630912) 
  • Unveiling the depletion of Kupffer cells in experimental hepatocarcinogenesis through liver macrophage subtype-specific markers. J Hepatol, 2019 (PMID: 31213365)

Contact & links

  • Lab address: Hepatology Research Unit, Liver Research Center Ghent, UZ Ghent, Corneel Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent
  • Helena Degroote is interested to receive invitations for presentations or talks