GIF Research Grant No. I-1432-201.11/2017

Sentinels of the Oral Epithelium - Elucidating the Development and Function of Oral T Cells and their Interplay with Langerhans Cells

Pathogens and antigens from air and food constantly challenge the oral cavity, the gateway for both the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. The oral mucosa, in particular the gingival epithelium, provides an important immunological barrier against invading pathogens and monitors the biofilm developing on the tooth surface. In previous work, we showed that Langerhans cells (LCs) and γδ T cells are two prominent immune cell types residing in the oral mucosal epithelium. Here we hypothesize that γδ T cells and LCs communicate at steady state and inflammatory conditions to coordinate their functions in preventing pathogen invasion and maintenance of immune homeostasis. Therefore, the goal of the joint project is to further explore the development and function of oral γδ T cells and LCs, to elucidate their interplay, and to reveal their specific roles in infection and aging. The two partners aim to cooperatively reveal novel mechanisms involved in oral mucosal immunity, and thereby to contribute to public health.