Inflammation is a well-orchestrated host response to remove damaged or infected tissue. However, uncontrolled and excessive inflammation contributes to a plethora of disorders. The LMI focuses on neutrophils, the most abundant leukocytes during the acute phase of inflammation. Neutrophils are short-lived, non-dividing phagocytes that are filled with an arsenal of ready-made toxins and lytic enzymes. Neutrophils rapidly respond to infection and injury. To prevent collateral damage of host tissue, neutrophil recruitment and clearance must be tightly controlled. A particular research focus of LMI lies on so-called Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs). NETs are lattices of DNA-strands, which were first described in 2004 by Dr. Arturo Zychlinsky as a measure to entrap bacteria in the extracellular space [Brinkmann et al. Science, 2004. 303(5663):1532-5]. Today, NETs are fundamentally integrated infectious or sterile inflammatory conditions.
Thromboembolic and cardiovascular disease
We investigate the role of neutrophils and NETs in thrombus formation to develop novel diagnostic assays and therapies for cardiovascular and thromboembolic diseases. The diverse projects received funding from a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship, by a PhD student fellowship to Chandini Rangaswamy from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and by start-up funding from the Foundation for Pathobiochemistry and Molecular Diagnostics of the German Society for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (DGKL).
Neutrophilic inflammation and NETs are linked to several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The association of NETs with SLE is multifaceted. NETs are targeted by autoantibodies and stimulate the adaptive immunity, indicating a vicious circle of NET-formation and autoimmunity. Within the Collaborative Research Centre 1192 “Immune-mediated glomerular disease”, we investigate the role of NETs in lupus nephritis.
We study the NETs in inflammatory disease of the hepatobiliary tracts. The project received funding from the Collaborative Research Centre 841 “Liver inflammation: infection, immune regulation and consequences” and Clinical Research Unit “Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis”