Innate immunity and joint destruction
The main focus of our team is to gain a better understanding of the relation between the innate immune system and joint destruction in rheumatic diseases with emphasis on rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Joint destruction is largely driven by an inflamed synovium (covering the inside of joints) initiated by local processes and aggravated by systemic inflammation induced by predisposing factors like age and metabolic diseases. It is our goal to understand how locally induced inflammation within the joint and systemic inflammation interact within the synovium and contribute to cartilage and bone destruction , characteristic for these diseases. Thereby emphasis is given to macrophages and their mediators playing crucial roles within inflammatory cascades. Apart from understanding joint pathology, our research is devoted to develop new diagnostics for predicting joint destruction and advanced therapeutics like anti-inflammatory stem cell treatment. The basic techniques are molecular, biochemical and particular immunological methods and animal models of rheumatic diseases. The outcome of our experimental findings are directly translated to human diseases in close interaction with clinical research.