Psoriasis Research and Treatment Center

Research laboratory for Molecular Immunopathology

Head: Priv.-Doz. Dr. rer. nat. Kerstin Wolk

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The Molecular Immunopathology team at the PRTC is exploring the molecular and cellularmechanism underlying the development and persistence of chronic inflammation of the skin. Centralresearch interest is primarily Psoriasis and Acne inversa but also the Pityriasis rubra pilaris and theLichen ruber planus

To study the inflamed skin, research focuses on:

  • The role of cytokines (such as IL-22, IL-29, IL-20, IL-19, IL-17, IL-24, IL-1beta and IL-36) and their organization in networks
  • The characterization of the skin immune cell infiltrates
  • The epigenetic alterations of local tissue cells
  • The disease-specific appearance of skin hyper-regeneration versus skin destruction

Apart from skin alterations, patients with chronic inflammatory skin diseases often suffer from otherclinical diseases (so called comorbidities) such as joint inflammation, colon inflammation andmetabolic disorders (obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure). Thus, the research laboratoryalso studies the mechanistic link between skin inflammation and comorbidities.

Further studies focus on the regulation of the skin permeability barrier, the epidermalantiviral/antibacterial defense of the skin, the identification of biomarkers for stratification ofpatients as well as the establishment of in vitro and in vivo model systems for skin inflammation.

The following examination systems are used:

  • Skin biopsies for expression studies
  • Cell populations isolated from blood (granulocytes, monocytes, T cell types) and skin (immune cell types, fibroblasts, keratinocytes and their precursors)
  • Immune cell subtypes (Th22 cells, Th17 cells, mDCs, macrophages) differentiated in vitro from blood precursor cell populations
  • Reconstituted cultures of the epidermis
  • Cultures of excided inflamed and healthy skinIn vivo systems including models of skin inflammation and wound healing, cytokine over-expressing strains, strains deficient for single or multiple cytokine receptors

Due to the strong cooperation with the clinical team, a human tissue sample bank was established,enabling broad cross-disease examinations.