My name is Ioanna Stavrakaki and I’m doing my master’s studies in Nutrition and Health, here in Wageningen University. In May 2010, I joined the Laboratory of Nematology in order to perform my second (minor) thesis for 4 months in the topic “Immunomodulatory effect of mushroom extracts in the human THP-1 monocytic cell line”.
The reason this topic was chosen is that a number of mushroom extracts has been previously shown to possess immunostimulatory activity, which can be helpful for preventing or combating diseases, related to the immune system. For this project, I was supervised by Dr. Arjen Schots and from Prof. Leo van Griensven from Plant Research International. Briefly, for my thesis, I had to prepare extracts from different mushrooms (Agaricus blazei, Agaricus bisporus, Lentinus edodes etc.) and test their activity in the THP-1 cells, by measuring the production of different cytokines by the cells. Working in the lab of Nematology, was a very nice experience for me since the group combines both qualitative work but also a very nice environment. The lab is very well organized, while staff members are always willing to help you with your work but are also very friendly and open to students. In general, I am very glad that I chose to perform my second thesis in this department and I feel that I gained a lot from this experience.