We are born with an immature immune system, which gradually matures during their first year(s) of life. In addition to the genetic contribution to immunological variation between individuals, environmental exposures such as the establishment of a gut microbiota and exposure to various infections will have an important influence on immune maturation. These types of interactions between the surrounding environment and the neonate will provide the individual with an immune system, which knows how to react and also to what antigens it should respond. In contrast early microbial deprivation/deviation or maternal disease could result in poor infant immune maturation and/or altered immune balance and later also to immune mediated diseases, like allergy.

Our main research goals are to understand how early-life (microbial) exposures influence immune maturation and allergy development, and the biological mechanisms behind it. We perform experimental studies in vitro with human and murine cells as well as bacteria and viruses, complemented by in vivo studies in murine models.


Key words

Immune maturation, allergy, lactobacilli, Staphylococcus aureus, herpesvirus


Selected publications

1) Björkander, S., Johansson, MA., Hell, L., Lasaviciute, G., Nilsson, C., Holmlund, U., Sverremark-Ekström, Eva. FOXP3+ CD4 T-cell maturity and responses to microbial stimulation alter with age and associate with early-life gut colonization. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 May 30. pii: S0091-6749(16)30365-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.04.027. [Epub ahead of print]

2) Haileselassie Y, Navis M, Vu N, Qazi KR, Rethi B, Sverremark-Ekström E.Postbiotic Modulation of Retinoic Acid Imprinted Mucosal-like Dendritic Cells by Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri 17938 In Vitro. Front Immunol. 2016 Mar 17;7:96. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2016.00096. eCollection 2016.

3) Björkander S, Hell L, Johansson MA, Forsberg MM, Lasaviciute G, Roos S, Holmlund U, Sverremark-Ekström E.Staphylococcus aureus-derived factors induce IL-10, IFN-γ and IL-17A-expressing FOXP3(+)CD161(+) T-helper cells in a partly monocyte-dependent manner. Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 26;6:22083. doi: 10.1038/srep22083.

4) Fergusson JR, Smith K, Flemming VM, Rajoriya N, Newell EW, Simmons R, Marchi E, Björkander S, Kang Y-H, Swadling L, Kurioka A, Sahgal N, Lockstone H, Baban D, Freeman G, Sverremark-Ekström E, Davis MM, Davenport MP, Venturi V, Ussher JE, Willberg CB, Klenerman P. CD161 defines a transcriptional and functional phenotype across distinct human T cell lineages. Cell Reports 2014; 9:1075-88.

5) Saghafian-Hedengren S, Sohlberg S, Theorell J, Carvalho-Queiroz C, Nagy N, Nilsson C, Bryceson Y, Sverremark-Ekström E. Epstein-Barr virus co-infection in children boosts cytomegalovirus-related differentiation of Natural Killer cells. J Virol 2013; 87: 13446-55.


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