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Oral electrophysiology

Both endocrine (hormones) and exocrine (body fluids) secretion are closely regulated. There are many common traits between the regulatory mechanisms, also when it comes to electrophysiological signals and Ca2+ signals.

Photo of lab equipment

Patch-clamp set up. Foto Fredrik Pedersen, UiO.

About the group

We investigate the role of different ion channels in the regulation of secretion. Originally, the focus has been on how secretion of hormones from pituitary cells is regulated. We are now transferring this experience to the world of oral biology, and will in the future also study the role of the same ion channels in regulation of saliva secretion as well as in development of oral cancer cells.

Main objectives

  • Unravel the details of secretion control in gonadotrope pituitary cells
  • Understand the function of the neuron-like extensions of the LH-producing pituitary cells
  • Unravel the role of Ca2+ signaling and Ca2+-activated K+ and Cl- channels in secretion and secretion control in salivary acinar and duct cells
  • Study how ion channel expression is regulated by cancer-derived exosomes and how this putative change in electrophysiological profile affects migratory properties


Control of secretion in gonadotrope pituitary cells

This project has been a collaboration with Finn-Arne Weltzien at NMBU since 2005. We combine molecular biological and electrophysiological tools to unravel the details of how the hypothalamic releasing hormone GnRH controls gonadotropin production and secretion. In particular, we are interested in how GnRH differentially regulate the two different gonadotropins; LH and FSH. We use the Japanese rice fish, Medaka, as a model organism, and have developed transgenic lines that express GFP in LH-producing cells and RFP in FSH-producing cells, respectively. Please visit the Weltzien group website ( for more information.

Figur 1
Figure 1: Action potensials in a pituitary cell. Figure: Trude Haug, UiO

Neuronal-like extensions of LH-producing cells in medaka

This project is in collaboration with Heidi K. Grønlien at Østfold University College as well as the Weltzien group at NMBU. The LH-producing cells in the pituitary of the medaka form long and often branched extensions. We aim to describe the anatomy and development of these extensions, and further to unravel the physiological roles of the extensions.

Ca2+-activated K+ and Cl- channels in salivary acinar and duct cells

This project is about to start, and will be a collaboration with Hilde K. Galtung at this Department. Much is known about the roles of ion channels in saliva secretion, but still mysteries remain. The large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel (BK) for instance, is present in both acinar and duct cells of the salivary glands, and may have more diverse roles than previously acknowledged. We will investigate the participation of this channel both in bulk saliva secretion and in the ACh signaling pathway in acinar cells, as well as its contribution to K+ secretion (and maybe ACh signaling) in duct cells. Our long experience of studying BK channels in pituitary cells will be helpful in starting this new line of investigation.

Cancer-derived exosomes and their effect on electrophysiological properties and migration

This is a project about to start within the newly formed oral cancer research group (OCRG) at Institute of Oral Biology. It is well known that exosomes can induce cells to develop more cancerogenic properties. Some of these changes include up- and down-regulation of certain ion channels, and this regulation is again linked to changes in the ability to migrate, divide and grow. We will study how oral cancer-derived exosomes affect normal cells in the vicinity, using among other methods also electrophysiological recordings. 


Internal collaborators

External collaborators

  • Heidi K. Grønlien, Østfold University College, Norway
  • Finn-Arne Weltzien, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Published Aug. 14, 2018 11:15 AM - Last modified Feb. 9, 2022 12:13 PM


Institute of Oral Biology
Domus Odontologica
Sognsvannsveien 10
0372 Oslo

Group leader