The community of cells lining our airways plays a crucial role to protect the host against invading pathogens. Similarly, the microorganisms colonizing the airways called "commensals" greatly influence respiratory tract health. However, we still lack a thorough understanding of how these commensals interact with the airway tissue to generate a protective barrier against pathogens. We propose to bridge this knowledge gap by utilizing an immunocompetent-humanized 3D-organotypic airway-tissue model to determine the crosstalk between epithelial barrier and resident immune cells during commensal versus pathogen colonization. Specifically, we will verify the concept of human-derived airway commensals as inducers of protective immune memory of airway tissues and lay the foundation for future application of commensals as therapeutics.
Research Team: Srikanth Mairpady Shambat, Chun-Chi Chang and Silvio Daniel Brugger