Claire E Hills
  • Associate Professor (Reader), University of Lincoln
Research focus
  • Biomedical Science; Diabetes; Chronic Kidney Disease; Ageing, Connexins
  • In collaboration with Professor Squires we are interested in several aspect of glucose and TGF-beta induced renal damage in diabetes. Almost one third of all patients with diabetes progressively develop diabetic nephropathy (DN) within 10-to-30 years of the onset of disease and DN accounts for almost a quarter of those entering end-stage renal replacement programs in the UK. However, we still lack a basic understanding of this debilitating condition. Current dogma implicates the cytokine transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta;) as the predominant mediator of tubulointerstitial fibrosis, the common final pathway in DN and end-stage renal disease. Understanding the mechanism by which TGF-beta instigates phenotypic and morphological changes is essential in establishing novel therapeutic strategies for the prevention or arrest of the disease. Our studies aim to elucidate how the injured environment disrupts cell-adhesion, cell-cell communication and renal function in both diabetic nephropathy and chronic kidney disease with a view to identify new therapeutic targets. The work is funded by Diabetes UK, the EFSD, DRWF, the Physiological Society and the Royal Society.
  • 1 Author merit


PhD, University of Warwick, 2006

Lab information

Claire Hills Lab

1. Price GW, Potter JA, Williams BM, Cliff CL, Wall MJ, Hills CE, Squires PE. Examining Local Cell-to-Cell Signalling in the Kidney Using ATP Biosensing. Methods Mol Biol. Jul 14. doi: 10.1007/7651_2020_297. 2020.
2. Price GW, Chadjichristos CE, Kavvadas P, Tang SCW, Yiu WH, Green CR, Potter JA, Siamantouras E, Squires PE, Hills CE. Blocking Connexin-43 mediated hemichannel activity protects against early tubular injury in experimental chronic kidney disease. Cell Communication & Signalling 2020. 25;18(1):79.
3. Siamantouras E, Hills CE, Liu K-K, Squires PE. Examining cell-cell interactions in the kidney using AFM single-cell force spectroscopy. Methods Mol Biol 2067: 189-201. Doi 10.1007/978-1-4939-9841-8_14, 2020.
4. Price GW, Potter JA, Williams BM, Cliff CL, Squires PE, Hills CE. Connexin mediated cell communication in the kidney, a potential therapeutic target for future intervention of diabetic kidney disease? Experimental Physiology, published online Nov 30th 2019. DOI: 10.1113/EP087770, 2020.
5. Siamantouras E, Price GW, Potter JA, Hills CE, Squires PE. Purinergic receptor (P2X7) activation reduces cell-cell adhesion between tubular epithelial cells of the proximal kidney. Nanomedicine, 22, 102108, 2019.
6. Hills CE, Price GW, Wall MJ, Kauffman TJ, Tang SC, Yiu WH, Squires PE. Transforming Growth Factor Beta 1 drives a switch in connexin mediated cell-to-cell communication in the diabetic kidney. Cell Physiol Biochem, 45: 2369-2388, 2018.
7. Siamantouras E, Hills CE, Squires PE, Liu K-K. Quantifying cellular mechanics and adhesion in renal tubular injury using single cell force spectroscopy. Nanomedicine, 12 (4). 1013-1021, 2016.
8. Hills CE, Squires PE. Mind the gap: connexins and cell-cell communication in the diabetic kidney. Diabetologia: 58(2):233-41, 2015.
9. Siamantouras E, Hills CE, Squires PE, Liu K-K. Nanomechanical investigation of soft biological cell adhesion using Atomic Force Microscopy. Cellular & Molecular Bioengineering, 8 (1), 22-31, 2015.
10. Siamantouras E, Hills CE, Squires PE, Liu K-K. Nanomechanical Investigation of Soft Biological Cell Adhesion using Atomic Force Microscopy. Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering. 8 (1): pp 22-31. 2014.
11. Siamantouras E; Hills CE; Younis MY; Squires PE; Liu K-K (2014) Quantitative investigation of calcimimetic R568 on beta cell adhesion and mechanics using AFM single-cell force spectroscopy. FEBS Letters, 588(7):1178-83. 2014
12. Squires, P.E., Jones, P.M., Hills, C.E. The calcium-sensing receptor and beta-cell function' Vitamins & Hormones, 95:249-67. 2014
13. Hills CE, Kerr MI, Wall MJ, Squires PE. Visfatin reduces gap junction mediated cell-to-cell communication in proximal tubule-derived epithelial cells.' Cellular Physiology & Biochemistry.32:12001212. 2013
14. Hills CE, Jin T, Siamantouras E, Liu K-K, Jefferson KP, Squires PE. 'Special K' and a loss of cell-to-cell adhesion in proximal tubule-derived epithelial cells: modulation of the adherens junction complex by ketamine. PLOS ONE, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071819. 2013
15. Hills CE, Bland R, and Squires PE. Functional expression of TRPV4 channels in human collecting duct (HCD)- cells: implications for secondary hypertension in diabetic nephropathy. Experimental Diabetes Research doi: 10.1155/2012/936518. 2012
16. Hills CE, Younis MY, Bennett J, Siamantouras E, Liu KK, Squires PE. Calcium Sensing Receptor Activation Increases Cell-Cell Adhesion and β-Cell Function. Cell Physiol Biochem. Jul 25:30, 575-586. 2012
17. Hills CE, E Siamantouras, SW. Smith, P Cockwell, K-K Liu, PE. Squires. TGFβ-modulates cell-cell-communication in early epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Diabetologia.55:812-24, 2012
18. Hills CE and Squires PE. The role of TGF-β and epithelial-to mesenchymal transition in diabetic nephropathy. Cytokine Growth Factor Reviews. 22:131-9. 2011
19. Hills CE, Brunskill NJ, Squires PE. C-peptide as a therapeutic tool in diabetic nephropathy. American Journal Nephrology.31:389-397, 2010
20. Hills CE, Willars GB, Brunskill NJ. Microarray analysis of C-peptide induced gene changes in PTC: C-peptide inhibits TGF-1 via up-regulation of retinoic acid and hepatocyte growth factor related pathways. Molecular Endocrinology. 24:822-831, 2010
21. Hills CE, Squires PE. TGF-1 induced EMT and therapeutic intervention in the kidney. American Journal Nephrology. 31:68-74, 2009
22. Hills CE, Brunskill NJ. C –peptide and its intracellular signaling. Review of Diabetic Studies. 6:138-47, 2009
23. Hills CE, Bland R, Squires PE. SGK and diabetic nephropathy: disrupted sodium transport and beyond. Asia-Pacific Journal of Endocrinology. 1:29-34, 2009 (Invited review, inaugural edition)
24. Hills CE, Bland R, Bennett J, Ronco PM, Squires PE. TGF-1 mediated cytoskeletal rearrangement in HCD cells; a potential role in connexin associated cell-to-cell communication. Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry. 24:177-186, 2009
25. Hills CE, Brunskill NJ, Cellular and physiological effects of C-peptide. Clinical Science (Lond). 116:565-574, 2009
26. Hills CE, Al-Rasheed N, Willars GB, Brunskill NJ. C-peptide reverses TGF-beta-1 induced changes in renal proximal tubular cells: implications for treatment of diabetic nephropathy. American Journal of Physiology 296:F614-621, 2009
27. Hills CE, Squires PE, Bland R. SGK and disturbed renal sodium transport in diabetes. Journal of Endocrinology. 199:343-349, 2008
28. Hodgkin MN, Hills CE, Squires PE. The calcium-sensing receptor and insulin secretion: a role outside systemic control 15 years on. Journal of Endocrinology. 199:1-4, 2008
29. Hills CE, Brunskill NJ. Intracellular signalling by C-peptide. Experimental Diabetes Research. 635158: 2008
30. Hills CE, Bland R, Bennett J, Ronco PM, Squires PE. High glucose up-regulates ENaC and SGK1 expression in HCD-cells. Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry. 18, 337-346, 2006
31. Hills CE, Bland, R, Squires PE. Glucose-evoked alterations in connexin-43-mediated cell-to-cell communication in human collecting duct: a possible role in diabetic nephropathy. American Journal of Physiology. 291:F1045-51, 2006
32. Squires PE, Hills CE, Rogers GJ, Garland P, Farley SR, Morgan NG. The putative imidazoline receptor agonist, harmane, promotes intracellular calcium mobilization in pancreatic b-cells. European Journal of Pharmacology 501:31-39, 2004
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