Christina Zielinski and her research group focus on the interactions between cells of the immune system and infections. The team has a particular interest in T cells, which are white blood cells that represent the so-called acquired immune system. They aim to determine how, for example, T cells can simply tolerate so many different microorganisms in the body while recognising and fighting intruders all at the same time? And, what actually occurs when the immune system suddenly starts to react and fight against its own tissue, as is the case with autoimmune disorders? How do T cells decide where to go and for how long to stay in a particular organ? The researchers already know that T cells have numerous functions which can be both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory in nature. Molecular switches are responsible for maintaining a balance between them, which bacteria and fungi are also able to turn ‘on or off’.
Christina Zielinski discovered that dietary sodium chloride reduces multiple sclerosis by inducing anti-inflammatory properties in Th17 cells.
Videoabstract to the publication: "Salt generates anti-inflammatory Th17 cells but amplifies their pathogenicity in pro-inflammatory cytokine microenvironments", The Journal of Clinical Investigation.