Immunology is one of the branches which in the recent years has given one of the major contributions to basic research in the mechanisms concerning basic biology and in the understanding of the pathogenesis of several disease. In this context, our Group of Immunology and ImmuneMetablism at the IEOS-CNR is interested, over the last 15 years, in the study of the mechanisms that regulate the basic principles of self tolerance and how the immune system is able to discriminate the self
- from non-self
. In the context of these topics, this group has been supported by the EU with 2 ERC Grants (the first from 2008-2011 and the second from 2013 to 2018), by a FIRB Young Grant (2013-2016) and by extensive scientific collaborations with pharmaceutical industry (Merck-Serono).
The main topic of this area of research is the study of the basic mechanisms governing the immune tolerance and the interactions between the metabolic/nutritional status and the immune system. More specifically, the focus is the analysis of the functional alterations of T CD4+
effector lymphocytes (Teff) and regulatory T cells (Treg), a cellular subset involved in the control of peripheral tolerance, in different models of autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis (MS), type I diabetes (T1D), purely metabolic diseases such obesity and auto-inflammatory disorders (Tumour necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic fever syndrome ,TRAPS). The main objective of these studies is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanism by which metabolism could modulate immune cells function both in vitro
and in vivo
(in patients and in animal models of these same diseases). The identification of the precise relationship between the metabolic status and the immune system as well as the definition of the microenvironment necessary for a physiological development of Teff / Treg cells aim at the identification of new therapeutic strategies that exploit the modulation of the metabolic asset for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The main research interests are:
ERC-StG “menTORingTregs” pubblications repository
- Analysis of the metabolic and immunological asset of patients with MS, T1D, obesity, TRAPS;
- Role of metabolism on the transcriptional and epigenetic control of lineage-specific factors (ie. FoxP3, Treg; ROR-gt, Th17);
- Study of the metabolic signals involved in the genesis of Treg cells;
- Functional characterization of molecules at the interface between metabolism and immunity (ie. Sirtuin, AnnexinA-1, Prep1) in subjects with autoimmune diseases and in murine models;
- Identification of novel biomarkers for the prognosis and progression of the disease (MS, T1D);
- Novel therapeutic strategies based on the modulation of the main metabolic pathways in vivo in murine models of autoimmunity (EAE, T1D);
- Comprehension of the immunological mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of obesity.