Cytokines are key communication signals between cell types and distinct parts of the body. The tight balance of homeostatic cytokine signaling in the immune system is a prerequisite for a healthy immune state and is misled in chronic inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Cytokine specific neutralisation using targeted antibodies against TNF-α (Infliximab, Adalimumab, Certolizumab) or IL-6R (Tocilizumab) represent the mainstay in the therapy of chronic inflammatory disorders.
Genome wide association studies (GWAS) identified cytokine receptors (IL-23R, IL-17R) and signaling adaptor molecules (e.g. STAT3) to be associated with inflammatory bowel disease. Our lab is interested in the role of cytokine signaling (IL-23, IL-6) in the intestinal epithelium. In detail, we want to decipher the mechanisms that are employed to use IL-23 and IL-6 as a bridging signal between luminal microbes and host epithelial defence. Another focus is the mechanism of action of cytokine blockade.