Projects Mucosal Infection Immunology
Immunometabolism in intestinal infections
Targeting the intracellular metabolism of immune cells is a promising novel strategy for immunomodulation. Our previous work suggested that intracellular de novo fatty acid synthesis represents an important metabolic checkpoint for the reciprocal differentiation of Th17 versus regulatory T cells. One focus of our work is to understand the impact of central metabolic processes on intestinal immune responses under in vivo conditions. We use established as well as newly generated genetic mouse models that allow for the deletion of the key metabolic enzymes in specific immune- and non-immune cells such as T-cells, ILCs and intestinal epithelial cells. We also assess the potential of pharmacologic modulation of metabolic pathways and translate these findings into the human system.
Immune cell function in intestinal infections
It has been a long-standing focus of our research group to analyze the immune response in gut inflammation and infection with gut-specific bacterial pathogens. In particular, we study the role of dendritic cells for the induction of protective innate lymphoid cell (ILC)- and T cell-mediated immune responses in the intestine. Another focus is on the identification and functional characterization of epigenetic signature genes in ILC lineages, which will be an important step for the discovery of key pathways and molecular mechanisms in ILC differentiation and function in intestinal infection and inflammation. C. difficile is one of the most important causes of healthcare acquired infectious diarrhea. Using a newly established murine infection model, we aim to identify and to characterize processes associated with C. difficile infection, including the role of specific immune cell subpopulations or the impact of specific environmental and host-derived factors on the integrity of the intestinal barrier during acute/relapsing infection.