Our primary goal is to explore the role of trace elements within different aspects of immune system’s development and (mal-)function. This includes the possible application of nutrition to prevent or attenuate allergic diseases.
The high complexity but at the same time immense efficiency of the immune system in encountering pathogens and preserving human health is fascinating. Although it may be highly relevant for the development of new preventive approaches regarding immune dysfunctions, the role of essential trace elements within different aspects of immune system development and function is not sufficiently explored. Thus, key aspects of the group’s work are the immunobiology of zinc, especially the validation of the hypothesis that zinc is essentially involved in balancing the development and function of innate immune cells in health and diseases. The projects focus on establishing zinc and other nutritional elements as a strategy to prevent and treat inflammatory diseases as was recently addressed for sepsis and acute lung injury. Evaluation of the possible importance of zinc in the etiology and progression of allergic reactions as well as a role of zinc in exercise immunology is currently ongoing. In addition to human in vitro models, she includes in vivo and in vitro studies for mice, fish, chicken, and pigs. Using cell-line based models, the group is currently performing pilot experiments, to investigate the nutritional priming of the human lung and of the human immune system, aiming on contributing to our understanding of the importance of a balanced diet for healthy development in humans.