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Research Group Skevaki

At the epicenter of our work are the investigations of virus-associated asthma, the interface between respiratory tract infections and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), as well as biomarkers in allergies and asthma. Some of our ongoing research projects are listed below.

1. RNA viruses induce heterologous immunity against environmental allergens (C04)

Collaborative Research Centre 1021: “RNA viruses: RNA metabolism, host response and pathogenesis” (DFG)

The hygiene hypothesis, which supports that a lack of bacterial contact early in life induces allergic TH2 immune responses, is the leading concept to explain the current asthma epidemic. Our research showed for the first time, that heterologous immunity (HI) against influenza virus may also protect from asthma development (Fig. 1).

Chrysanthi Skevaki

Figure 1: A preceding influenza virus infection protects from experimental asthma in mice.

We have thus developed the central hypothesis that HI is a broadly applicable concept between several RNA viruses and environmental allergens. This concept is currently further expanded and validated through the aims listed here.

The DFG Collaborative Research Centre 1021 's hompage can be found here.

Relevant publications

• Skevaki C, Hudemann C et al. 2018 J Allergy Clin Immunol
• Pusch et al. 2018 Allergo J Int

2. Mitochondrial T-Cell reprogramming in virus-induced COPD exacerbation/emphysema progression (P10)

Clinical research unit KFO309: “Virus-induced lung injury” (DFG)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ranks among the top 3 global causes of death. Virus-induced exacerbations are heavily responsible for the prominent morbidity, mortality and associated health care costs. The crosstalk between T cells on the one side and macrophages and bronchial epithelial cells (BEC) on the other enhances susceptibility and immunopathology. Mitochondria may be critically involved in this intercellular communication.

Details of our working hypotheses (Fig. 2) and aims are listed here.

Arbeitshypothese für die Rolle von Mitochondrien in der Exazerbation von virus-induzierter COPD und der Entstehung von Emphysemen.
Chrysanthi Skevaki
Arbeitshypothese für die Rolle von Mitochondrien

Figure 2: Working hypothesis for the involvement of mitochondria in virus-induced COPD exacerbation and emphysema progression.

The homepage of the KFO 309 can be found here.

3. Evolution of the antibody repertoires to rhinoviruses and house dust mites

in relation to asthma inception and persistence: A high-resolution analysis in humans and mice (VIRAB)

Rhinovirus (RV) infections and allergy to house dust mites (HDM) are the main trigger of pre-school wheezing and acute exacerbations of asthma. In this project, our aims are to validate hypotheses raised by retrospective analyses in participants of the MAS birth cohort (Multicenter Allergy Study) by using mouse models, analyzing antibody responses and searching for biomarkers.

A more detailed description of ths project as well as our aims can be found here.

Relevant publications

  • Posa D et al. 2017 J Allergy Clin Immunol

4. German Lung Center (DZL)

Disease Area Asthma and Allergy

We have embarked on a number of associated ongoing studies. More specifically, we

  1. have compared the diagnostic performance of three different in vitro allergen sIgE assay systems regarding identification of clinically relevant allergen sensitization,
  2. are investigating early life molecular allergen sensitization profiles and their value in prediction of allergy development,
  3. are examining the use of cytokine levels in stimulated whole blood samples of ALLIANCE study participants for asthma endotyping,
  4. are assessing the role of eosinophil derived neurotoxin (EDN) as a non-invasive (urine) biomarker in pediatric asthma.
    Additional information on our DZL-associated projects can be found here.

The German Lung Center (DZL), Disease Area Asthma and Allergy 's homepage can be found here.

Relevant publications

• Sinz H et al. 2017 Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol
• Matricardi PM et al. 2019 J Allergy Clin Immunol

5. Deep asthma endotyping

among adult Maasai in rural and urban Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (DEAPMARK)

In Tanzania, asthma is an underdiagnosed NCD, with an estimated prevalence between 10 and 20 %. The increase of NCDs is associated with dramatic changes in lifestyle and environmental conditions. To understand relevant risk factors, we are conducting a cross-sectional study on adult asthmatics and healthy controls living under urban and rural conditions around Arusha in Kilimanjaro area in cooperation with the Kilimanjaro Christian-Medical Center and -Research Institute (KCMC, KCRI) (see here).

Relevant publications

• Skevaki C, Renz H 2017 J Allergy Clin Immunol
• Schwarze J et al. 2018 Allergy

Additional ongoing studies of the AG Skevaki deal with:

• Analytical and diagnostic performance of novel in vitro allergy diagnostic methods
• Early life nutritional intervention for the prevention of asthma

If you are interested in working on exciting projects for your MD, B. Sc., M. Sc. or science doctoral thesis, please go ahead and contact us:

A list of students and scientists currently working in the AG can be found here.