The goal of my laboratory is to understand the regulation and control mechanisms of immune responses at barrier sites. Barrier sites such as the lungs are continuously exposed to the environment and potential entry ports for pathogens. A unique network of cell populations ensures appropriate immune responses to defend the body against potential pathogens but also to maintain organ function and health at steady state. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) are tissue-resident and able to secrete large amounts of cytokines within a short time period and thereby orchestrate innate but also adaptive immune responses. Thus, studying the regulatory processes of ILC2 effector function is key to understand immune concepts of immunity and health at barrier sites.
Pregnancy is accompanied by distinct changes to the maternal immune system to provide protection to both the mother and the fetus. Fetal-maternal tissues are unique barrier sites between these two organisms. Immune cells including Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) are present, however, their contribution to the maintenance of pregnancy as well as the regeneration of tissue is only incompletely understood. Using novel isolation methods in combination with multicolor flow cytometry, we aim to firstly (Aim1) decipher the composition of innate lymphoid cell populations focusing on ILC2 at different locations of the placenta and secondly (Aim2) functionally analyze their activity. Thereby we will gain insights into the mechanisms of ILC2 regulation and function at this unique fetal-maternal site. With our work, we further hope to provide an expansion on our knowledge of basic research on innate type 2 immune responses to better understand and potentially promote pathways that contribute to a successful and healthy pregnancy.