The role of innate-like T cells in combined gut-joint disease in spondyloarthritis

01 January 2019 → 31 December 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Gastro-enterology and hepatology not elsewhere classified
Project description

Spondyloarthritis (SpA) covers a group of common inflammatory and chronic musculoskeletal
diseases that affect up to 1% of the Western population. They are characterized by inflammation
and tissue damage of the joints, leading to irreversible damage and loss of motoric function.
Interestingly, we demonstrated that about 50% of SpA patients were found to have microscopic
signs of gut inflammation, without having gastrointestinal complaints. Furthermore, the presence of
this microscopic gut inflammation is characterized by a shift in the gut microbiota. However, the
role of gut inflammation and concurrent microbial changes on development and progression of SpA
are currently poorly understood.
We will study how 'good' or 'bad' microbial changes can modulate regulatory immune cells that are
capable of promoting or attenuating inflammation. Furthermore, we will examine if restoration of
the microbial shift can ameliorate disease. The interplay between host (patient – genetic
susceptibility) and environment (microbial flora) may thus be a critical factor to modulate and
potentially suppress both gut and joint inflammation in SpA. Overall, this project aims to further
study the relationship between gut and joint inflammation, more particularly how the gut microbial
community can influence disease and how supplementation of stable microbial ecosystems can
steer immunoregulatory cells into a protective modus to attain long-term disease remission.