Multidisciplinary Center for Infectious Diseases (MCID)

Interplay of infections and the microbiota on outcomes for host health

Lead Applicant: Prof. Dr. med. Andrew Macpherson

University of Bern Department of Biomedical Research (DBMR) and University Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine

Co-Lead Applicant: Prof. Dr. Volker Heussler

Institute of Cell Biology (IZB), University of Bern

Mammals harbor an enormous number of microbes on body surfaces which normally are well tolerated, especially within the lower intestine. These microbes normally cause no problem, but small numbers continuously penetrate the body and stimulate the immune system improving immune responses. During an infection the delicate balance can shift so many more of these benign microbes reach the bloodstream.

In this project our objective in mice where the microbiota can be precisely controlled will be to understand how the immune system, particularly the antibody-producing arm responds to the combination of challenges from the malaria parasite and the microbiota, with the goal of understanding why the system becomes overwhelmed, potentially leading to sepsis.