Chronic inflammation is a major driver of various types of diseases that present a significant health challenge of our days. Our laboratory is particularly interested to understand and identify the molecular pathways driving inflammation in rheumatic diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic granulomatous diseases. Our studies aim to identify potential molecular targets for the treatment of these debilitating diseases.
Autoimmune diseases are characterized by inflammatory infiltrates in multiple organs without an identifiable infectious culprit. Although adaptive immunity is important for the development of autoimmunity, innate immunity is often a major determinant of disease severity. For example in systemic lupus erythematosus, immune complex deposition in the kidneys is not sufficient for severe kidney disease. Rather, innate immune cells, such as macrophages, are the drivers of aggressive glomerular lesions, as we previously showed (Triantafyllopoulou A. et al., PNAS 2010).
Inflamed tissues harbor, however, several populations of innate immune cells, the role of which and their cross-talk remain largely unexplored. Further, most of these populations have different origins, developmental programs and functions than their homeostatic counterparts. Exploring the biology of innate immune cells during disease rather than during homeostasis may provide us important mechanistic insights into disease pathogenesis.
Our aim is to explore monocyte and macrophage biology in chronic inflammatory diseases. At present we focus on two areas of research:
a. how inflammatory cytokines change the cell cycle and differentiation programs of macrophage precursors in lupus nephritis, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic granulomatous diseases.
b. the cross-talk between innate and adaptive immune cell subsets in lupus nephritis and its role in disease pathogenesis.
This work is supported by the DFG (SFB IMPATH).
Starting in August 2016 we will have open positions for medical students.Highly motivated and dedicated medical students who want to spend 12-18 months in the lab (8 months full time 4-10 part time) to gain experience on basic disease-relevant immunology research using in vitro assays, high content image cytometry, multicolor flow cytometry and a combination of transgenic and lupus mouse models are welcome to apply. We offer close supervision, one-to-one mentoring and support as a HiWi (provided by the IMPATH SFB).