Research group of PD Dr. U. Schleicher


Head of Institute:
Prof. Dr. med. Christian Bogdan

Research topics of the Laboratory for Innate Immunity and Leishmania Research

Leishmania parasites are protozoan pathogens which are transmitted by sand flies to various mammalian hosts, where they cause a broad range of diseases ranging from local and ultimately self-healing lesions to systemic, visceral infections that are lethal, if untreated. Studies with well-established mouse models of leishmaniasis revealed that both the innate and adaptive immune system (macrophages, dendritic cells (DCs), natural killer (NK) cells, CD4+ T helper (Th) cells, CD8+ T cells and different cytokines) contribute to an efficient immune response against the intracellular parasites. The focus of our research work is the analysis of cells, receptors, cytokines and antimicrobial effector mechanisms of the innate immune system during Leishmania infections. Specifically, we aim to elucidate the immunological processes that account for the control or evasion of the intracellular protozoan parasites Leishmania major, Leishmania tropica, Leishmania infantum, Leishmania mexicana and Leishmania braziliensis and to define novel approaches for the treatment of human leishmaniasis. In current projects special emphasis is given to the

A) role of natural killer (NK) cells during infection (supported by the German Research Foundation, SFB 643, Project A6; PD Dr. U. Schleicher and Prof. C. Bogdan)

  • signals for mouse and human NK cell activation and inhibition
  • interaction between NK cells and myeloid cells (pDC, cDC, neutrophils, macrophages)
  • expression and regulation of Toll like receptor 9
  • function of NK cells in cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis 

B) function and regulation of arginase during infection
(supported by the German Research Foundation, GK 1660, Project A5; PD Dr. U. Schleicher and Prof. C. Bogdan)

  • expression and function of arginase 1 in vitro and in vivo
  • interaction between iNOS and arginase in hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic cells 

C) crossregulation of inducible NO synthase and iron in cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis
(supported by the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research, University Hospital of Erlangen, project A61; Prof. Dr. C. Bogdan)

  • mechanisms of antimicrobial activity of iNOS
  • crosstalk between iron and iNOS in cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis

D) effect of inorganic redox compounds in cutaneous leishmaniasis (supported by the Emerging Field Initiative Consortium “Medicinal Redox Inorganic Chemistry” of the FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg; Prof. Dr. C. Bogdan)

  • effect of SOD-mimetics in cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis
  • effect of pharmaceutical sodium chlorite
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