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Immuno-education in the neonatal period: Prevention of allergic disease?

Friday 18 February 2011

Project
Immunebalance is disturbed and immunological tolerance is lacking in inflammatory diseases like allergy. Previous studies have suggested that immune maturation in early life in children who later develop allergy is different from (high risk) children who will become a tolerant state. In utero and directly after birth a tolerant environment is necessary to avoid premature birth and a chronic state of hyperinflammation post-natally. However, the capacity to fully mobilize the adaptive immune system needs to be retained in case of infections.

Gradually the immune system is developing a mature immune system. When this process fails a neonate is at risk for allergy. This project focuses on the development of the immune system and factors influencing this highly flexible maturation process.

The plasticity of the immune system of neonates involves many innate driven immuneregulatory processes. A better understanding of these processes in early life will raise opportunities for the development of preventive therapies for children at risk for allergic disease.

The first part of this project concentrates on a better understanding of normal maturation processes. Healthy neonates and neonates at high risk for atopy are followed in time from birth. Focus is on interaction and regulation between the innate and adaptive immune system over time.

The second part of this project aims at induction of immune tolerance in (cow’s milk) allergy by prebiotics (as potential immunomodulatory carbohydrates). This is a randomised placebo-controlled trial with a follow-up period of 2 years. Children will be clinically evaluated for allergy each year. Immunologic effects of prebiotics will also be investigated by in vitro experiments.

Techniques
Cell culture of T cells and different types of DC, FACS, Elisa, luminex, gel electrophoresis, confocal microscopy, immunohistochemistry, in vivo animal studies

Duration
6 or 9 months

Contact
Dr. Mark Klein, 088 75 555 55 (pager 4118), mklein01@umcutrecht.nl