- Development and function of secondary and tertiary lymphoid tissues. Immune responses in lymphoid tissues
- The role of immune cells in adipose tissues
- Innate lymphoid cells and stromal cells
Stromal-Immune Cell Interaction Group
The immune system protects us against infectious diseases by mounting immune responses that aim to ultimately eliminate pathogens that invade our bodies. In order to exert this protection the different cell types of the immune system need to communicate with each other using cell-cell contact mediated by a range of cell surface molecules or by producing soluble factors that act on other cells. These interactions between immune cells are facilitated by their recruitment to specific micro-environments in lymphoid tissues distributed around our bodies such as lymph nodes, Peyer’s patches, bronchial and gut associated lymphoid tissues, fat associated lymphoid clusters, etc.
The main research interests of the team are the interactions between immune and stromal cells that underlie lymphoid tissue formation during embryogenesis and immune responses and inflammation in adults. The team uses in vivo and in vitro approaches combining biochemistry and molecular biology techniques with genetic models and imaging technologies to unravel the cellular and molecular events regulating these processes. Jorge’s team has demonstrated the function of the Lymphotoxin beta receptor and NF-kB signalling in stromal cells during lymph node development (Carragher et al. 2004, White et al. 2007, Benezech et al. 2010). The team has also shown that interactions between adipocyte progenitor cells from fat pads and immune cells leads to the reprogramming of the former to become lymph node stromal cells that support T cell survival ex vivo (Benezech et al., 2012).
More recently the team has identified the signals and cells required for the formation of a novel type of lymphoid tissues called Fat Associated Lymphoid Clusters (FALCs) located in the mesenteries, myocardium, and mediastinum. Specifically, FALCs respond to inflammatory signals by increasing the size and number of clusters, in particular through the recruitment of macrophages, B1 and B2 cells (Benezech et al., 2015).
By dissecting the molecular interactions between stromal and immune cells during lymphoid tissue formation Jorge’s team aims to understand how to either prevent the ectopic formation of these tissues during autoimmune diseases or to induce their development to support local immune responses against tumours. This knowledge will aid in the development of therapies against inflammation, uncontrolled immune responses and cancer.
- Jorge is a member of the editorial board of the Immunity and Infection section of the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).
- Jorge is review editor for the e-journal “Frontiers in Immunology”
- He has organized the “17th Germinal Centre Conference on Lymphatic Tissues and Immune Reactions” together with Kai Toellner. 4th-8th of September 2011. The Belfry, West Midlands, UK. 170 participants.
- He has also organized the “Microanatomy of Immune Responses in Health and Disease Conference” together with Peter Lane and Graham Anderson. 5th-8th of September 2009. University of Birmingham, UK. 150 participants.
- He was a member of the advisory board of Unit of Molecular Immunology and Signal Transduction, GIGA-Research at the University of Liege, Belgium (2009).