The Research Group of Immunology and Rheumatology

Silke Appel Group

Single cell network profiling of distinct immune cells allows analyzing pathway specific activity of patient samples at the single cell level. This will enable us to stratify different categories of patients and develop personalized therapies. The overall aim of our research is to further unravel the mechanisms by which dendritic cells modulate T cell responses, both in autoimmunity as well as tumor immunity. Our results will lead to a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in antigen presentation, T cell stimulation and tolerance induction, thereby revealing new tools for diagnosis and targets for therapy of patients with cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases as well as patients undergoing stem cell transplantation. Thus, it will lead to an increased survival and better quality of life for patients.


Main content

Projects and current members within the group


Aleksandra Petrovic, MD, PhD fellow

Towards personalized therapy – the effect of biopharmaceutical treatment on peripheral immune cells in psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the skin with increased risk of comorbidities. Patients with severe disease require treatment with cost-intensive biopharmaceuticals. It is still unknown which patient will respond adequately to a certain drug. Therefore, there is the need for better patient stratification to responders and non-responders to a given treatment. Quantification and assessment of various immune cell populations, especially dendritic cells, in peripheral blood of psoriasis patients prior to and after treatment will give us information regarding initiation and maintenance of the inflammatory pathways in psoriasis.

Richard Davies, PhD, Postdoctoral fellow

Working on a project under the framework of NORMENT which aims at characterizing endocannabinoid system (ECS) associated immune cell signalling networks in schizophrenia patients. The ECS is a lipid signaling system involved in the regulation of a wide variety of physiological and pathological processes including memory, appetite, stress response and immune function. There is strong evidence that dysregulation of the ECS is involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. We speculate that dysregulations within this system may be representative of a patient’s condition, and thus monitoring changes in the system may provide information that could influence clinical decision making. The project will utilize mass cytometry to provide an in-depth examination of the intracellular signaling systems. Identified dysregulations within the ECS will be associated with genotypes and epigenetic changes. It is hoped this will provide mechanisms behind the disease pathogenesis, and aid in the development of molecular therapeutic strategies targeting these mechanisms.

Ylva Bratterud Helgesen, Masters student

In her master project Ylva is looking into the microenvironment of salivary glands in Sjögren’s patients, trying to categorize subclasses of immune cells. The project examines tissue from minor salivary gland biopsies using Image Mass Cytometry (IMC) where tissue is stained with antibodies specific for different antigens. The antibodies are conjugated to different metal tags which can be detected, indicating where in the tissue the antibodies are bound, allowing identification of different immune cell subsets. This mapping of immune cells can give us greater insight into how different immune cells affect the inflammation and autoimmunity in the salivary glands of Sjögren’s patients.