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Adaptive Immunity Lab

Introduction

The main research interest of the Adaptive Immunity lab is to unravel the molecular mechanisms that control the formation of effector and memory T cells and to explore how these cells fulfill their function at different sites throughout the body. Therefore, we focus on different costimulatory molecules, cytokines and transcription factors in this process and address how T cells interact with local tissue cells in various organs. Of particular interest in this respect is the bone marrow, as this organ harbors many different T cell subsets, including the majority of all memory CD8 T cells. We are exploring which local cells and signals are important to support memory T cells inside the bone marrow, as this is highly relevant for long term protection after infection and the success of vaccination strategies.

But, besides its role as a memory organ, the primary function of the bone marrow is obviously the production of all blood cells, which is tightly controlled by local stromal cells and growth factors. Interestingly, we discovered that T cells can also influence this differentiation process at different levels and thereby regulate their own breeding ground. We postulate that this is important during infections, when activated T cells provide unique feedback signals to the bone marrow about the nature of the invading pathogen, aiming to improve the host’s immunity to efficiently combat the infection. Yet, when this feedback persists, which happens during chronic infection or inflammation, this can lead to the development of anemia or even bone marrow failure. These findings provide an explanation on why the bone marrow contains many T cells, but also provide new insight in why patients that suffer from chronic infections or chronic inflammatory diseases frequently develop anemia.

Medical needs:

Anemia
Vascular Diseases and Inflammation
 

Funding:

  • PPOC (internal funding in competition

Our research