Immune checkpoints of gut-brain communication in inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases

The gut-brain axis, a bidirectional communication system controlled by neural, hormonal, metabolic, immunological, and microbial signals, plays a crucial role in modulating brain function. Recent insights highlight the significance of disrupted gut-brain communication in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Clinical studies indicate a heightened risk of Parkinson’s disease in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and suggest a suspected link between IBD and multiple sclerosis (MS). This association underscores the emergence of the concept of a pathological “gut-brain axis”.

Structural and functional changes in the central nervous system (CNS) are influenced by alterations in the microbiome (dysbiosis) and the translocation of bacterial antigens and inflammatory cells/soluble factors across the gut and blood-brain barrier. While the understanding of the gut-brain axis is gaining traction, comprehensive characterization of the communication between these organs remains limited. Nonetheless, these insights are pivotal in identifying immunological checkpoints within this network.

The central aim of this clinical research group KFO5024 (GB.Com) is to deepen the understanding of interactions along the gut-brain axis in immune-mediated inflammatory and degenerative diseases. By bridging the research focuses of immunology and neuroscience, we aim to uncover unique insights into the pathogenesis of these conditions, laying the groundwork for the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Influencing inflammatory processes in either organ system could potentially mitigate the risk of concurrent inflammatory or degenerative conditions along this axis.

To realize this objective, we will harness our expertise in preclinical and clinical neuroimmunology, neurodegeneration, gastroenterology, and mucosal immunology. Our initiative seeks to supplant the traditional, organ-specific perspective on inflammatory processes. Our long-term aspiration is to meticulously decipher the mechanisms of gut-brain interactions, identifying novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Ultimately, this endeavor aims to pioneer innovative treatment strategies for diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract and CNS.


Central Objective:
To define the interactions between the gut and nervous system along the gut-brain axis in immune-mediated inflammatory and degenerative diseases.


Gut-brain axis – Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – Neurodegeneration – Microbiome alterations – Therapeutic targets


Wir freuen uns über den gelungenen Girls' Day, an dem 21 Schülerinnen einen Tag lang in die Welt der Forschung eintauchen durften. Der Tag begann mit inspirierenden Vorträgen von Prof. Winner und Prof. Günther, die jeweils ihren persönlichen Karriereweg aufzeigten und betonten, wie wichtig es ist, ...

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