Research Projects (Third party funds)


How are regulatory T cells maintained in the immune system?

Regulatory T cells protect from immune responses against the organism itself. Once regulatory T cells have left the thymus, these cells have to be maintained to keep this protection functional. Due to the lack of unique markers for converted regulatory T cells, the contribution of thymic output, cell division and conversion from conventional T cells to regulatory T cell homeostasis is unknown. Our collborator Jochen Hühn (HZI) transiently depleted regulatory T cells in mice.

We demonstrated with a population dynamics model that thymic output and T cell division alone are not able to explain the fast rebound or regulatory T cells. Conversion turned out to act as a trigger of the rebound by re-installing a baseline population, which then divides to rebuild the regulatory compartment. The model predicts that regulatory T cells control T cell transorgan migration. Currently, we investigate the dynamics of T cell subsets under disease conditions.

Scheme of the multi-organ model of regulatory T cell homeostasis. The model includes processes like conversion of naïve to regulatory T cells and trans-organ motility. Parameters of the model were…

Simm members

Sahamoddin Khailaie, Phillipe A. Robert, Alexey Uvarovskii (since 2016 in Heidelberg)


Milanez-Almeida* P, Meyer-Hermann* M, Toker A, Khailaie S, Huehn J. Foxp3+ regulatory T cell homeostasis quantitatively differs in murine peripheral lymph nodes and spleen. Eur J Immunol 45 (2015) 153-66, [*shared first author]

Milanez-Almeida P, Klawonn F, Meyer-Hermann M, Huehn J. Differential control of immune cell homeostasis by Foxp3+ regulatory T cells in murine peripheral lymph nodes and spleen. Eur J Microbiol Immunol 4 (2014) 147-155.


Helmholtz International Graduate School for Infection Research
iMed – The Helmholtz Initiative on Personalized Medicine



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