Pathogenesis of lymphoid follicle formation and mucosal immunity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

01 January 2018 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Respiratory medicine
Project description

An abnormal inflammatory response to cigarette smoke is a key feature of chronic obstructive

pulmonary disease (COPD), the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Importantly, even after

smoking cessation the inflammation persists and the lung function of patients further declines.

Lymphoid follicle formation is associated with disease severity, not only in COPD but in several other

chronic inflammatory diseases. This suggests that lymphoid follicles play a role in the persistence of

inflammation. Unravelling the mechanisms of lymphoid follicle formation can contribute to a new

therapeutic strategy that targets lymphoid follicle formation in chronic inflammatory diseases.

We hypothesize that an altered crosstalk between memory B-cells and fibroblasts drives the

formation of lymphoid follicles. Furthermore, we anticipate that chronic infection with Haemophilus

influenzae –which is present in 30% of patients with COPD –further facilitates the development of

lymphoid follicles. Finally, we will investigate whether defective mucosal IgA immunity –as seen in

patients with COPD –additionally enhances lymphoid follicle formation.