• Analysis of molecular mechanisms causing immunotoxic effects as a result from exposure to environmental pollutants.

Activation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) by environmental pollutants such as Dioxins or PCBs leads to altered expression of key factors critical for the function of Dendritic cells (DCs). The AhR can modify the process of maturation of DCs/Macs, which is important in understanding the development of the different types and subsets of DCs. This project is focusing on the mechanistic understanding of how the activity of AhR may modify the differentiation and function of DCs. Compounds like dioxins/PCBs or other persistent organic pollutants, which activate the AhR will affect the immunogenicity of DCs and the immune response. These mechanisms could possibly represent the reason for the increasing incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases caused by exposure to environmental pollutants.

  • Identification of molecular markers (Biomarkers) for risk assessment of the development of chronic diseases (Autoimmune diseases, Cancer) caused by exposure.
  • Development and application of in vitro models as alternatives to animal experiments. One major topic is the detection and assessment of the inflammatory and oxidative stress responses caused by chemicals from combustion processes.
  • Genotoxicity of fuel emission samples. The Single Cell Gel Electrophoresis assay (also known as Comet Assay) is a sensitive technique for the detection of DNA damage at the level of the individual eukaryotic cell. Human monocytic cells are used to evaluate the potential damage to DNA caused by exposure to fuel emission samples.