The impact of nutrition on the innate response to gut viral infections
PhD student: Osama Eisa MD
The intestinal mucosa is the largest surface area in the body in direct contact with the external environment. Challenged by a huge and diverse antigenic load, it has developed a unique immune system that mainly functions to maintain tolerance to innocuous antigens while retaining the ability to respond swiftly to pathogenic threats. The intestinal immune system is constantly and directly influenced, not only by the commensal microbiota inhabiting the lumen, but also by the nutritional status of the host and the availability of certain essential micronutrients that are derived from a healthy-balanced diet. Additionally, age has a significant and direct impact on the efficiency of the gut immunity in responding to infectious pathogens, as reflected by the increased burden of gastrointestinal infections in the very young and very old. Furthermore, new insights have shed light on a previously unappreciated importance of the viral component of the microbiome (Virome), and the associated baseline or constitutive Interferon expression, in modulating the gut mucosal immune system. This project aims to characterize intestinal mucosal antiviral-responses with specific focus on the roles of Intraepithelial Lymphocytes (IELs), the influences of certain micronutrients that are mediated through the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR); Thus the impact of foods which contain these and positively influence intestinal immunity to enteric viral infections.
Funding: Islamic Bank.
Supervisors: Professor Jonathan L Heeney, Marc Veldhoen, Barbara Blacklaws
Duration: 2014 to present