BRFAA - Biomedical Research Foundation Academy Of Athens
Biomedical Research Foundation Academy Of AthensAcademy Of Athens


The research of our laboratory is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern immune tolerance in the context of allergic inflammation. Immune tolerance is critical for the suppression of overactive T helper type -2-driven allergic responses to harmless environmental allergens and the prevention of associated diseases, such as asthma and atopic dermatitis. Central to the maintenance of tolerance are regulatory T cells and immunomodulatory cytokines. These regulatory factors restrain pathogenic immune responses and prevent, or even, reverse established allergic diseases.

Our previous studies have uncovered the cytokine activin-A as a novel inducer of CD4+Foxp3-IL-10-producing regulatory T cells that suppress T helper type -2-driven allergic responses in vivo. Activin-A-induced regulatory T cells also protect against experimental asthma upon transfer in vivo. We are interested in elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the generation and the suppressive functions of activin-A-induced regulatory T cells and in investigating the roles these cells play in the maintenance of respiratory tolerance. Understanding of the mechanisms that induce regulatory T cell suppression may offer critical insight into how their function may be exploited in vivo for the design of effective immunotherapies.

Another research focus of our lab, complimentary to the above, is investigating the role of activin-A in the induction of functional human regulatory T cells suppressive towards allergic responses in individuals with asthma. Ultimately, our goal is to use activin-A-induced human regulatory T cells in adoptive cell therapy regimes aiming to inhibit inflammation and re-establish tolerance in the airway. For our studies, we employ a wide range of immunological assays including in vitro cellular techniques and in vivo animal models of allergic diseases (i.e. asthma). In addition, biochemical and molecular biology approaches along with genomics, proteomics and mass spectrometry analyses are utilized. Our findings are validated in clinical samples and humanized mouse models of allergic diseases.