A section of intestinal tissue with mucus-producing cells.

Patricia Barral : Areas of interest

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Our research interest is to understand the cellular mechanisms that initiate and shape immune responses, with a particular emphasis on studying the biology and function of unconventional T cells in health and disease.

Immune cells constantly patrol the body to recognize and destroy invading pathogens and consequently protect us from disease. The initiation of immune responses is the result of a complex process of activation of immune cells that critically depends on communication among different cell types and often requires direct cell-cell interactions. A precise regulation of the location and interactions of immune cells are crucial to control their activation and consequently to preserve the balance between health and disease. Our studies seek to define how, where and when activation signals are delivered to immune cells and how these correlate with the initiation and outcome of immune responses

We specifically focus on immune responses to lipids. The immune system recognizes and responds to a variety of lipids both endogenous and present on pathogenic bacteria (e.g. Streptococcus pneumoniae; Helicobacter pylori; Mycobacterium tuberculosis), fungi (Aspergillus fumigatus) or commensals. By combining in vivo models, imaging and genetics, we aim to uncover how the immune system handles lipids, which are the mechanisms that mediate lipid recognition by immune cells and which are the consequences for human health when these processes are dysregulated.