Eric Cox lab

Prof. Dr. Eric Cox

Tel: +32 9 264 73 96

Research topic

The lab of Immunology studies host-pathogen interactions at the level of the intestinal mucosa focussing on enterototoxigenic and verotoxigenic E. coli using the pig as animal model and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (cooperation with using sheep and cattle as animals models. The first step in these studies is understanding the attachment of the pathogen to host epithelial cells and to understand how this modulates epithelium. Subsequently the effect on the antigen presenting cells (DCs, macrophages) and lymphocytes (T-helper 1, T-helper 2, T-helper 17, T-reg) in the lamina propria and organized lymphoid tissues is studied as well as how this leads to protective immune responses. As a result of identification of receptors on the epithelium and the effect of the interaction between adhesion structures and their receptors, new strategies are developed to induce mucosal immune responses and/or passive protection against infection (cooperation with VIB Departement of Plant Systems Biology, Research Group of Ann Depicker). Other pathogens for which interaction with the intestinal mucosa are studied are Toxoplasma gondii in pigs and sheep (cooperation with Lab of Parasitology and WIV), Chlamydia species in poultry and pigs (cooperation with Lab for Immunology and Animal Biotechnology) and yeasts ß1,3-1,6-glucans in pigs. The gut is not only a site which many pathogens use to enter the body, but it is an important tolerogenic barrier for gut flora and food antigens. Disturbances of this barrier can lead to allergic responses. In dogs this is a serious problem for which the mechanism leading to food allergy are not known and therapy is difficult. Techniques are developed which allow us to study the immune response in dogs.

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