Mast cells as inducers and modulators of adaptive immune responses

(Project Leader: PD Dr. rer. nat. Michael Stassen, PD. Dr. med. Christian Taube)


It is increasingly being realized that mast cells are able to promote and even to shape the development of adaptive immune responses. Furthermore, mast cells are able to boost recall responses in already sensitized hosts. These important features of mast cells are most likely due to their ability to influence T cell responses via soluble factors acting on either antigen presenting cells (APCs) or T cells, or through mast cell - T cell contact - dependent mechanisms. In this project, based on our previous work, we would like to analyse the influence of mast cells on both the priming of T cells and on effector T cell responses using murine models of allergic airway hyperreactivity. A focus will be the influence of mast cells on the migration of APCs and their ability to process and to present antigen. Novel murine models will allow dissecting the roles of mast cells and the interplay between mast cells and T effector cells in recall responses and in the chronic phase of allergic airway disease. Furthermore, the impact of mast cells on the development of antiviral T cell-mediated immunity will be investigated. A long-term goal will be to reveal the mechanisms how certain viruses influence the development of airway disease.

(Please klick the images to enlarge them)

Figure 1: Role of mast cells for the development of adaptive immune responses following exposure to a TLR ligand in combination with antigen. TLR ligand-mediated mast cell activation leads to an increased migration of langerhans cells from the skin to the regional lymph nodes. This results in the development of a specific T cell response against the antigen.


PD Dr. rer. nat. Michael Stassen (project leader)
PD. Dr. med. Christian Taube (project leader)
Dr. rer. nat. Marc Becker (post-doc)
Dr. rer. nat Sebastian Reuter (post-doc)
Fatma Döner (doctoral candidate)
Anke Heinz (MTA)

Contact information:

PD Dr. rer. nat. Michael Stassen
Institute of Immunology
Johannes Gutenberg-University
Obere Zahlbacher Str.
55101 Mainz

Tel: +49 6131 3933350
Fax: +49 6131 3935688
E-mail: stassenm(at)

PD Dr. med. Christian Taube
III. Medical Clinic
Dept. of Pulmonary Medicine
Johannes Gutenberg-University
55101 Mainz

Tel: +49 6131 17 6848
Fax: +49 6131 17 6668
E-mail: christian.taube(at)

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