Employing models of allergic inflammation, microbial colonization and/or manipulation, current research focuses on how mammalian host genetics and signals derived from commensal microbial communities influence innate and adaptive immune responses at multiple barriers surfaces. In another line of research we study whether targeting age-related changes in innate immune cell function can alter immunological, metabolic, physical and/or cognitive signatures of aging.
Current research projects
Aging – a reversible biological process?
Group Noti For many people, extended lifetime goes along with poor general health associated with common inflammatory, neurodegenerative and metabolic disorders ultimately leading to a progressive decline in organ function and death. Therefore, elucidating the complex pathways controlling the rate of aging is of significant clinical importance in order to improve health and maintaining wellbeing throughout the life-course. In a series of new studies, we are currently investigating how changes in plasma factors associated with aging alter immune cell function at different tissue sites and whether targeted manipulation of such age-related changes have a beneficial effect on the aging organism.
Age-related changes of immune factors in the plasma proteome of mice
Basophils – what role play basophils in the initiation of type-2 immune responses
Group Noti As the public health and economic burden of food allergies continues to grow, there is an urgent need to develop new intervention strategies to prevent and treat this disease. While the effector functions mediating food allergies are well described, little is known how food allergic responses are initiated. In recent studies we demonstrated that cutaneous sensitization to food allergens is associated with the infiltration of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP)-elicited basophils that promote Th2 polarization and the development of food allergies. Employing in vitro and in vivo model systems, current research is investigating what basophil intrinsic factors promote the pathogenesis of IgE-mediated food allergies.
Computer-enhanced electron microscopic image of a TSLP-elicited mouse basophil
Microbiota – Do changes in the gut microbiota promote allergic inflammation?
Group Noti Recent studies have highlighted that the trillions of bacteria hosting our bodies are not just hitchhikers, but actively communicate and contribute to the maturation of the host’s immune system. Alterations in dietary habits, improved sanitary installations and limited exposure to infections associated with a Western lifestyle significantly impact the diversity of the microbiota. Perturbations in this sophisticated host–microbial interaction may cause uncontrolled immune responses fostering the development of allergic inflammation. Employing axenic, gnotobiotic and humanized microbiota models we investigate whether changes in the gut microbiome associated with a Western lifestyle promote allergic inflammation.
Gut microbiota composition in food allergic- vs. non allergic mice