Marloes van SplunterPhD student
Regulation of mucosal immunity by bovine milk ingredients
In this project the immunological effects of bovine milk on humans will be investigated. From large cohort studies, where thousands of kids where followed up during childhood, we know that growing up on a farm results in a decreased prevalence of asthma and allergies. These beneficial effects are only measurable when the kids on a farm are drinking raw farm milk. The protective effect of the milk is lost when the raw farm milk is heated.
My PhD project consists of two parts, one in vitro part in which I will purify milk components and test their effect on human (immune) cells. The other part will be done in collaboration with FrieslandCampina and NIZO. This part involves a human oral vaccination study. We are especially interested in mucosal immunity (gut and upper airways) of humans and therefore an oral vaccine was picked. The effects of oral vaccination on the mucosal immune response will be measured by using different techniques, such as flow cytometry and ELISA. In this way we can follow specific antibody production and which immune cells are involved. Another interesting topic within this project is the occurrence of ‘homing’ of white blood cells. This is the phenomenon where white blood cells leave the blood stream to go to a specific location in the body based on the expression of certain receptors. This receptors are the so-called homing receptors and can direct cells to the gut, airways, lymphnodes or skin. In this study we will try to follow the induction of homing of white blood cells from the gut towards the airways upon the different vaccination methods. With this knowledge it might be possible in the future to better direct protective immune responses in places where they really have to react instead of a systemic response.