The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Immune-to-brain communication in immune-mediated lung inflammation; studies of neuronal mechanisms and the impact of immunomodulators

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In this project we investigate the immune-to-brain communication pathways induced by a Th2 mediated immune response, for example as seen in Asthma. This project will inform us about the neuronal pathways activated by Th2 mediated allergic reactions, which areas in the brain are involved and if they stimulate pro- and anti inflammatory feedback loops.

Project Overview

Communication between the systemic immune system and central nervous system (CNS) is a critical but often overlooked component of the inflammatory response to tissue injury, disease or infection. Activation of these highly conserved neuronal and hormonal communication pathways in mammals drives diverse components of the inflammatory response, including neurogenic inflammation, hypersensitivity, descending anti-inflammatory neuronal mechanisms and a coordinated set of metabolic and behavioural changes termed “sickness behaviour”.
The biological mechanisms that underpins immune-to-brain communication in response to Th1 mediated inflammatory challenges (i.e., the TLR4 agonist LPS) are relatively well understood. By contrast, the impact of localised Th2 immune-mediated disease, such as allergic lung inflammation, has been largely overlooked.
Using well-established immunocytochemistry, molecular biology and formal behavioural testing techniques, this study aims to investigate the biological nature of immune-to-brain communication elicited by immune-mediated lung disease.

Funding

This work is funded by a MRC CASE PhD studentship, funded by GSK (2009-2012).

Supervisors

This project is supervised by Dr Jessica Teeling, Dr Leigh Felton (GSK) and Prof Hugh Perry.

Related research groups

Biomedical Sciences

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