Otto Loewi Forschungszentrum

RESEARCH FOCUS INFLAMMATION, AUTOIMMUNITY AND CANCER

PI: Johannes Fessler

Focus: The research unit "Aging & Metabolism in Autoimmunity" focuses on the influence of aging, nutrition and metabolism and their interplay on the immune system. Special attention is given to the regulation of autoreactive T cells. T cells from patients with autoimmune diseases suffer from premature aging and often exhibit altered cellular metabolism. Both can lead to an increased pro-inflammatory immune response and consequently to chronic, tissue-damaging inflammation. Our group investigates possible connections and their underlying mechanisms of aging and immune metabolism for the regulation of immune responses in the context of autoimmune diseases.

Network: We conduct cross-team research at the Otto Loewi Research Center with the teams of Herbert Strobl, Sandra Holasek and Stefano Angiari. In addition, we are closely linked to the Clinical Departments of Rheumatology and Immunology (Martin Stradner), Nephrology (Kathrin Eller), Pediatric Hemato-Oncology (Wolfgang Schwinger) and Neurology (Michael Khalil). Metabolic studies are performed in collaboration with the Gottfried Schatz Center. We also collaborate with other groups in Austria and internationally (Harvard Medical School, University of Toronto and University of Dijon).

Projects

Polyamine metabolism in autoimmune diseases

  • Patients with autoimmune diseases often exhibit a chronic, exaggerated pro-inflammatory immune response. Recently, we have shown in a mouse model that polyamine metabolism plays an important role in the regulation of this inflammatory immune response. However, to what extent this disorder is actually involved in the pathogenesis of various diseases in humans is what we want to investigate in this project.
  • Duration: 2020-2025
  • Funded by: Medical University of Graz
  • Project partners: Herbert Strobl, Sandra Holasek and Stefano Angiari (all Immunology & Pathophysiology), Martin Stradner (Rheumatology), Michael Khalil (Neurology), Frank Madeo and Tobias Eisenberg (KF Uni Graz), Vijay Kuhroo (Harvard Medical School), Chao Wang (University of Toronto), Lionel Apetoh (University of Dijon).

Metabolic alterations in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome

  • T cells in autoimmune diseases such as primary Sjögren's syndrome suffer from a prematurely aged phenotype. This phenotype favors inflammatory immune responses and thus the chronicity of this disease. This project addresses the impact of this premature T cell aging on cellular metabolism and whether metabolic alterations could represent a potential therapeutic target.
  • Duration: 2020-2023
  • Funded by: Medical University of Graz
  • Project partners: Herbert Strobl, Sandra Holasek and Stefano Angiari (all Immunology & Pathophysiology), Martin Stradner (Rheumatology), Tobias Madl, Wolfgang Graier (Gottfried Schatz Center) Wolfgang Schwinger (Pediatric Hemato-Oncology)

 

Division of Immunology and Pathophysiology

Ass.-Prof. Dr.
Johannes Fessler,  BSc MSc
T: +43 316 385 71150

Team

Members