Group of Immuno-Ophthalmology

Group Leader

Anu Kauppinen
PhD, Associate Professor
Academy Research Fellow

Faculty of Health Sciences
School of Pharmacy
University of Eastern Finland
Yliopistonranta 1C, 70210 Kuopio

Tel.: +358-40 355 32 16
E-mail: anu.kauppinen (at)


Post-doctoral Researchers

Maria Hytti, PhD Pharm
Yashavanthi Mysore, PhD

Doctoral Students

Iswariyaraja Sridevi Gurubaran, MSc (
Eveliina Korhonen, MSc
Niina Piippo, MSc
Sofia Ranta-aho, BSc Pharm
Maija Toppila, MSc
Niina Bhattarai, MSc

Master's Students

Marjut Köylijärvi, BSc

Major Research Interests

Inflammation is associated with various chronic diseases many of which have insufficient treatment options. Our main clinical model is age-related macular degeneration (AMD) where accumulating stress factors induce inflammation in the retina. Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells form a single-cell layer between the nutrient-supplying choroid and photosensivite receptor cells that are indispensable for vision. RPE cells play a major role in maintaining the functionality of photoreceptors, and degenerating RPE precedes the vision loss in AMD.

One of our major aims is to reveal the molecular mechanisms of AMD pathogenesis. We are studying what is happening inside the aged RPE cells leading to their degeneration. One of our special interests are inflammasomes that are intracellular signaling complexes with ample unrevealed potential.

Another central aim in our research is drug development by testing compounds that could rejuvenate the functionality of RPE cells.

Selected Publications

Kauppinen A., Paterno J., Blasiak J., Salminen A., and Kaarniranta K. (2016) Inflammation and its role in age-related macular degeneration. Cell Mol Life Sci, 73(9): 1765-1786, doi: 10.1007/s00018-016-2147-8.

Korhonen E., Rönkkö S., Hillebrand S., Riikonen J., Xu W., Järvinen K., Lehto V-P., and Kauppinen A. (2016) Cytotoxicity assessment of porous silicon microparticles for ocular drug delivery. Eur J Pharm Biopharm, 100: 1-8, doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2015.11.020.

Hytti M., Piippo N., Korhonen E., Honkakoski P., Kaarniranta K., and Kauppinen A. (2015) Fisetin and luteolin protect human retinal pigment epithelial cells from oxidative stress-induced cell death and alleviate inflammation. Sci Rep, 5: 17645, doi: 10.1038/srep17645.

Hytti M., Piippo N., Salminen A., Honkakoski P., Kaarniranta K., and Kauppinen A. (2015) Quercetin alleviates 4-hydroxynonenal-induced cytotoxicity and inflammation in ARPE-19 cells. Exp Eye Res, 132: 208-215, doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.02.001.

Piippo N., Korkmaz A., Hytti M., Kinnunen K., Salminen A., Atalay M., Kaarniranta K., and Kauppinen A. (2014) Decline in cellular clearance systems induces inflammasome signaling in human ARPE-19 cells. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1843(12): 3038-3046, doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2014.09.015.

Kauppinen A., Niskanen H., Suuronen T., Kinnunen K., Salminen A., and Kaarniranta K. (2012) Oxidative stress activates NLRP3 inflammasomes in ARPE-19 cells -implications for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Immunol Lett, 147(1-2): 29-33, doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2012.05.005.

Klettner A.*, Kauppinen A.*, Blasiak J., Roider J., Salminen A., and Kaarniranta K. (2013) Cellular and molecular mechanisms of age-related macular degeneration: From impaired autophagy to neovascularization. Int J Biochem Cell Biol, 45(7): 1457-1467, doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2013.04.013. * equal contribution

Kauppinen A., Suuronen T., Ojala J., Kaarniranta K., and Salminen A. (2013) Antagonistic crosstalk between NF-ß and SIRT1 in the regulation of inflammation and metabolic disorders. Cell Signal, 25(10): 1939-48, doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2013.06.007.

Salminen. A., Kaarniranta K., and Kauppinen A. (2012) Inflammaging: disturbed interplay between autophagy and inflammasomes. Aging Mar; 4(3):166-175, doi: 10.18632/aging.100444.

Kaarniranta K., Sinha D., Blasiak J., Kauppinen A., Veréb Z., Salminen A., Boulton M., and Petrovski G. (2013) Autophagy and heterophagy dysregulation leads to retinal pigment epithelium dysfunction and development of age-related macular degeneration. Autophagy, 9(7): 973-984, doi: 10.4161/auto.24546.

Kauppinen A., Salminen, A., and Kaarniranta K. (2013) Inflammation as a target of minocycline: special interest in the regulation of inflammasome signaling. Inflammasome, 1: 2-14, doi: 10.2478/infl-2013-0002.