Effect of microbiome on the skin-lung axis in asthma

01 October 2018 → 30 September 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Respiratory medicine
    • Respiratory medicine
    • Respiratory medicine
Project description

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, which is increasingly seen in developed
countries. The disease is driven by an exaggerated inflammatory response to inhaled allergens
such as house dust mite (HDM), pollen and animal dander. Asthma can be caused by allergic
sensitization to HDM via the lungs but we have recently shown that sensitization to HDM can also
occur via the skin. Both sensitization routes result in the most prevalent type of asthma,
characterized by eosinophilic airway inflammation. Interestingly, exposure to allergen does not
always lead to the same disease. Indeed, some patients present another, more severe type of
immune response to allergens, with abundance of neutrophils instead of eosinophils. Hence, we
have developed a unique model that mimics this more severe disease based on repetitive
exposure to HDM via the skin followed by HDM challenges in the airways. How this divergence in
airway immune response to the same allergen emerges remains unclear. We hypothesize that
perturbations in the microbiome composition of the skin programs immune responses to allergens
that fundamentally affect disease outcome. In this project, we aim to unravel the influence of the
microbial environment on important players in the development of asthma that is induced via
HDM exposure to the skin. These insights might aid the development of targeted therapy and