Cell Stress in Intestinal Tissue Repair and Microbiome Homeostasis

The Focus Group “Cell Stress in Intestinal Tissue Repair and Microbiome Homeostasis” comprises as principal investigators Hans Fischer Senior Fellow Prof. Thaddeus Stappenbeck (Cleveland Clinic)  and his host Prof. Dirk Haller (TUM School of Life Sciences).

We are interested in the combined effects of host genetics and the environment on the health of the cells that line the intestine. The lining cells of the intestine have many functions, including nutrient absorption and creation of a barrier that is both physical and chemical. Inherited genes, in combination with environmental factors such as diet, exercise, smoking, and sleep, lead to alterations in the function of these cells. The composition of microbial populations in the intestine (the microbiome) is a target of both the environmental factors and defects in host cellular function. The crosstalk between these factors is an important component of this system. We are interested in how host cells, particularly secretory cells such as Paneth cells that secrete a variety of antimicrobial proteins, fail to function properly. The consequences of genetic and environmental challenges often lead to cell stress, poor function, and cell death. We are interested in understanding the mechanism of poor function and developing new therapies to target these defects.