Aim & Approach
Mucosal surfaces (i.e. of the intestines, the lungs and urogenital tract) represent a vast interface that shields the interior of the body from external influences. In healthy circumstances, the mucosal immune system protects against pathogens, while at the same time it must maintain tolerance towards innocuous inhaled or ingested antigens and commensal micro-organisms. In chronic inflammatory bowel disease, the immune system is overly active. In allergies, first exposure to an allergen via the oral mucosa can lead to tolerance rather than delayed type IV hypersensitivity. In the theme ‘Mucosal Immunology’, we investigate normal and abnormal development of mucosal immune responses.
Prof. dr. Reina Mebius focusses on the role of stromal cells in lymphoid organ development and the mucosal immune system, as well as on the vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid (RA), which is instrumental in regulating gut associated immune responses.
Prof. dr. Marjolein van Egmond addresses the function of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which is the prevalent antibody present in mucosal areas, and the effector mechanisms that are triggered via the IgA Fc receptor FcαRI.
Prof. dr. Sue Gibbs uses state of the art tissue engineered oral mucosa, gut, lymph node organotypic models to investigate tolerance and innate immune mechanisms.