- Characterize how co-infection with HIV affects functions in Mtb-infected macrophages. Investigating the ability of HIV to manipulate handling and killing of intracellular Mtb, focusing on cell signaling, phagolysosome fusion and manipulation of the activation status of macrophages.
- Characterize the effect of Mtb-HIV co-infection in immature dendritic cells. Focusing on the effect of HIV on dendritic cell-activation, maturation, and cellular functions involved during Mtb infection.
- The effect on innate immune cell functions by other co-infections. Although the primary focus is TB and co-infection with HIV, studies are currently undertaken to investigate the effect of helminthes on the innate immune cell capacity to elicit proper response to Mtb.
- Characterize how the cells of innate immunity interact in order to control Mtb during co-infection. We have shown that interaction between innate immune cells play an important role in the control of TB. Apoptotic neutrophils containing Mtb was seen to trigger a strong pro-inflammatory response in macrophages, necessary to control intracellular replication of the bacterium. The use of in vivo models has recently confirmed the role of apoptosis and neutrophils in the cellular cross-talk and immune activation during TB-infections (3, 4). Now the challenge is to investigate whether this cross-talk between innate immune cells is efficacious also for overcoming HIV-induced (or helminthes-induced) suppression on cellular functions, and to decipher these mechanisms.>
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