T-cells, Tregs, and autoimmunity
Our immune systems have evolved to eliminate as quickly as possible any harmful pathogens that enter the body. CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells are critical cells enabling the body to mount specific immune responses against pathogens. When T-cells recognise a pathogenic protein as foreign, they become activated and able to directly eliminate the pathogen or stimulate other cells of the immune system to do so. However, some T-cells may instead recognise proteins that make up the tissues and organs of the body. When such potentially self-harmful T-cells are not tightly controlled, autoimmune disorders can occur resulting in destruction of the body’s own tissues.
Research within the Manchester Immunology Group aims to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control how T-cells respond appropriately to infection, and how inappropriate regulation leads to autoimmunity. Specifically, our research aims to identify how specialised effector CD4+ T-cell subsets (Th1, Th2, Th17 cells) are regulated during immune responses, and how Tregs, a specialised subset of T-cells critical in suppressing self-harmful immune responses, are involved in modulating immunity. Our work focuses on the T-cell mediated control of responses to bacterial and parasitic infections, and on how breakdown in regulation can lead to the autoimmune disorders inflammatory bowel disease and Type I diabetes.