Our research aims to understand the role of tissue-resident cells of the innate immune system in the prevention of chronic inflammatory diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and inflammatory bowel disease. Our goal is to identify mechanisms that may inhibit the transition from homeostasis to chronic inflammatory disease and to determine the role of tissue-resident cells of the innate immune system in this process. Understanding such mechanisms may allow to answer the question of why some patients are susceptible to chronic autoimmune-related inflammatory diseases and others are not, and how to improve/achieve resistance to chronic inflammatory diseases.
Many patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as SLE, suffer from CNS manifestations whose early diagnosis and treatment are very difficult. Interestingly, we find that cells of the innate immune system are activated in the kidney and brain of SLE mouse models before the onset of clinically manifest systemic disease. Our data suggest that tissue-resident macrophages and/or microglia migrate along inflamed vessels of SLE mouse models and drive CNS inflammation. The role of these macrophages in CNS lupus is as yet unknown and will be investigated in this project. The project is linked to the Transregio “Neuromac” TRR167 (participating universities: Freiburg University Hospital, Weizman Institute of Science, Israel and Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Berlin).