Clinical Cytomics

Immune Dysfunctions: Allergy, Autoimmunity and Primary Immunodeficiency

The Clinical Cytomics Facility (CCF) of the University Institute of Clinical Chemistry consists of two research groups: The Fux research group investigates the cellular and molecular basis of allergy and primary immunodeficiency. On one hand, they evaluate whether and how human basophils perpetuate chronic allergic asthma. On the other hand, they study the relationship between cellular and humoral immunity in common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). The Horn research group focuses on autoantibody profiling in various autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and neuroimmunolgical disorders.

Human basophils are effector and immunoregulatory cells of T2-driven allergic reactions. Apart from releasing pro-inflammatory mediators upon IgER-dependent and IgER-independent digranulation, human basophils produce considerable amounts of IL-4, and IL-13. IL-4 and IL-13 are firmly established as important immunoregulatory cytokines in T2-type immune responses as occurring in the airway during chronic allergic asthma. Basophil-derived IL-4 and IL-13 promote local IgE synthesis, Th2 cell expansion, regulate cellular influx and trigger cytokine production in mast cells in synergy with IgER-dependent stimulation. Human basophils have thus the capacity to perpetuate chronic allergic asthma.

Common variable immunodeficiency disorder (CVID) is a form of primary immunodeficiency (PID) and the most common form of predominantly antibody deficiency in adults. The main clinical symptoms of an antibody deficiency are recurrent bacterial infections of the respiratory, or digestive tract with prolonged courses until full recovery. Since such symptoms occur also in common acquired infections a delay in diagnosis of 5-10 years is quite frequent. A better classification and standardized diagnosis of CVID is urgently needed.