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Mary Jo Wick's research group

Contact Information | List of Publications

The role of intestinal dendritic cells and macrophages in inflammatory bowel disease

The intestine is unique in that it is continually exposed to the large population of microbes that comprise the commensal microbiota, as well as to antigens from food, and must remain tolerant to these. The intestine must also maintain the ability to mount protective immunity to pathogens that enter via contaminated food or water. These opposing functions of the intestine underscore the complex nature of this environment. Our work focuses on dendritic cells and macrophages in the intestine. These cells are phagocytes that are central for both maintaining tolerance and inducing immunity. Bactericidal capacity, cytokine production and stimulating effector T cells are important functions of macrophages. In contrast, dendritic cells are specialized for antigen uptake and migration to draining lymph nodes where they present antigens to naive T cells to start an immune response. The group currently focuses on examining the role of intestinal dendritic cell and macrophages human inflammatory bowel disease.


The picture shows F4/80+  lamina propria macrophages (green) among intestinal epithelial cells (blue).

Inflammatory bowel disease includes two types of disorders, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is characterized by ulcers restricted to the colon, which cause painful inflammation and frequent bloody diarrhea. Crohn's disease can affect the entire intestine and causes severe abdominal pain and diarrhea. These diseases often strike young persons, have major complications and predispose to colorectal cancer. Perturbation of the tolerance we normally have to intestinal commensals in genetically susceptible individuals seems to predispose individuals to IBD. 

The project focuses on deciphering the role of intestinal dendritic cells and macrophages in the chronic inflammation of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Studies are performed using biopsies and surgical tissue from patients and healthy controls. Using these tissues, we investigate the role different dendritic cell and macrophage subsets have in influencing the aberrant T cell response that drives the inflammation of IBD. We also investigate the contribution of specific inflammatory receptors on macrophages and dendritic cells, and the signaling pathways engaged by these receptors, in driving the inflammation that plagues IBD patients. 


Group members

Mary Jo Wick, professor
Charles Caër, postdoc 
Frida Gorreja, PhD student
Sophia Forsskåhl, Masters Student

Sidansvarig: Dan Baeckström|Sidan uppdaterades: 2019-04-05

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