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Mary Jo Wick's research group

Contact Information | List of Publications

Intestinal dendritic cells in health and 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 has two research areas examining intestinal dendritic cell and macrophage function in health and disease:

1) Dendritic cell activation and immunity to intestinal bacteria
This project focuses on examining the role of intestinal dendritic cells, as well as inflammatory monocytes/macrophages, during the immune response to intestinal pathogens. In particular, we study the role of defined intestinal dendritic cell subsets in directing the immune response to Salmonella. We are also studying the mechanisms by which intestinal dendritic cells are activated during Salmonella infection to optimize the immune response to this bacterium. Specifically, we are determining the signaling pathways that get activated in dendritic cells that interact with the bacteria and how cytokines produced during infection affect dendritic cell activation and function.

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

2) Intestinal dendritic cells and inflammatory bowel disease
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 to inflammmatory bowel disease. This project focuses on deciphering the role of intestinal dendritic cells and macrophages in the chronic inflammation of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. We study the function of different intestinal dendritic cell and macrophage populations using biopsies and surgical tissue from patients and healthy controls.



Further information:

Recent Publications of Mary Jo Wick's group

Group members

Mary Jo Wick, professor
Alexander Wenzel, post doc
Maria Magnusson, post doc
Siggeir Brynjólfsson, post doc
Maria Fernandez, Ph.D. student

Sidansvarig: Dan Baeckström|Sidan uppdaterades: 2016-10-25

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