Immunology of Barrier Surfaces
Barrier surfaces are the first to come into contact with pathogens and have overlapping and unique immunological mechanisms to prevent infection. The lung, gut and skin form major physcial and immunological barriers to infection. These organs are the main portal of entry for a variety of air and food borne pathogens, allergens and other environmental pollutants. They have the unique ability to maintain homeostasis in the face of constant external provocation. Once this property is jeopardized, different types of diseases ensue. Although the underlying mechanisms of some of these diseases are not known, it is now becoming clear that immune imbalances contribute to many of these disorders. Many hematopoeitic cell types orchestrate immunologic responses to pathogens in these organs. Using animal models of disease (asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, IBD, systemic sclerosis), inducible transgenic techniques and genomic and proteomic approaches, we are involved in studying both basic mechanisms of dendritic cell maturation, ILCs activation, T cell differentiation and the relevance of these interactions in disease and in tolerance.