Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue

The immunological functions of subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) in the context of skin-based or systemic inflammation is poorly investigated. Therefore, a better understanding of the immunological SAT “reservoir” in humans under homeostatic or inflammatory conditions is necessary.

Our studies include a characterization and functional exploration of the cellular and molecular immune players in SAT. We use novel methodologies for spatial phenotyping of skin tissue at the single cell level. To investigate the specific antigens and signaling pathways in SAT, we aim to develop a full thickness skin model consisting of SAT, dermis and epidermis for studying cell-cell interactions and molecular mechanisms.

Panniculitis is an ideal model for us to understand the mechansims in SAT inflammation. We are currently investigating the immune cell infiltrates in panniculitis (inflammation of adipose tissue) to gain new insights into its underlying pathomechanisms. A central aspect in exploring this is to understand antigen-presentation in SAT including the type of antigen-presenting cells involved and the nature of antigens presented.

In terms of therapeutic targeting of SAT inflammation, we are currently developing epigenetic switches for programmable control of inflammation in collaboration with Kyoto university.

All of the mentioned conditions may be altered in and impacted by obesity. Therefore, modulation of SAT immune responses is a tempting new approach in the future for development of targeted therapies for cutaneous or systemic immune-related diseases.