The overall goal of our research is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which chronic inflammation in the liver can affect the function of immune cells during de nova infection by pathogenic organisms.
In our research we aim to elucidate the phenotype and function of the key players in the anti-viral and bacterial immune responses; DCs, CD4 helper T cells and CD8 CTL under chronic inflammatory conditions. We have established several model systems to characterize the impact of chronic inflammation on the development, maturation and function of the antigen specific CD8 and CD4 T cells as well as the antigen presenting cells. We use the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes and the Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) to investigate immune defense against bacterial and viral infections. Specifically, the research focuses on mechanistic studies to understand the role of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) including Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and RIG-I like receptors (RLRs) in the host immune response against microbial pathogens during chronic liver inflammation.
To model human liver diseases we have chosen the mouse as primary experimental system. Using knockout mice and conditional gene targeting we study the role of particular signaling pathway in mouse models of chronic inflammatory diseases such as liver fibrosis, IBD and liver cancer. The results of these studies will give insight into how chronic inflammation promotes persistence of infections and could lay the groundwork for generating novel options for treatment of chronic infections.