Otto-von-Guericke University (OvGU), Magdeburg


Fate of innate lymphoid cells in brain homeostasis and cerebral toxoplasmosis

We are interested in the phenotypic and functional characterization of innate immune cells in the central nervous system (CNS) under homeostatic condition and upon chronic infection-induced neuroinflammation. Previously, we described that ILC1s play an important role in the gut upon acute toxoplasmosis by coordinating the type 1 immune response, contributing to TNF and IFNγ production and affecting monocyte recruitment. Moreover, we addressed the role of certain myeloid derived mononuclear cell subsets in the periphery and in cerebral toxoplasmosis, highlighting their critical role in disease resolution. In this project we aim to characterize the ILC subsets in different brain regions in steady state and upon chronic cerebral toxoplasmosis. We set out to investigate the origin of ILCs in the brain and to determine the functional impact of ILC subsets in neuroinflammation.


Prof. Dr. Ildiko Rita Dunay
Project Leader
Dr. Johannes Steffen







  1. Klose CS, Flach M, Möhle L, Rogell L, Hoyler T, Ebert K, Fabiunke C, Pfeifer D, Sexl V, Fonseca-Pereira D, Domingues RG, Veiga-Fernandes H, Arnold SJ, Busslinger M, Dunay IR, Tanriver Y, Diefenbach A. Differentiation of type 1 ILCs from a common progenitor to all helper-like innate lymphoid cell lineages. Cell. 2014 Apr 10;157(2)
  1. Biswas A, Bruder D, Wolf SA, Jeron A, Mack M, Heimesaat MM, Dunay IR. Ly6C(high) monocytes control cerebral toxoplasmosis. J Immunol. 2015 Apr 1;194(7):3223-35.
  1. Biswas, A., French, F., Düsedau, H.P., Mueller, N., Riek-Burchardt, M., Dudeck, A., Bank, U., Schüler, T., Dunay, I.R. (2017) Behaviour of Neutrophil Granulocytes during Toxoplasma gondii Infection in the Central Nervous System, Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 21, 7:259.
  1. Van Acker A, Gronke K, Biswas A, Martens L, Saeys Y, Filtjens J, Taveirne S, Can Ammel E, Kerre T, Matthys P, Taghon T, Vandereckhove B, Plum J, Dunay IR, Diefenbach A, Leclerc (2017) A Murine Intestinal Intraepithelial NKp46-Negative Innate Lymphoid Cell Population Characterized by Group 1 Properties, Cell Rep. 19(7):1431-1443.
  1. Dunay IR, Diefenbach A. (2018) Group 1 innate lymphoid cells in Toxoplasma gondii infection, Parasite Immunol. 40(2).
  1. Bank, U., Deiser, K., Plaza-Sirvent, C., Osbelt, L., Witte, A., Knop, L., Labrenz, R., Jänsch, R., Richter, F., Biswas, A., Zenclussen, AC, Vivier, E., Romagnani, C., Dunay, I.R., Strowig, T., Schmitz, I., and Schüler, T. (2018). The anti-apoptotic molecule c-FLIP is crucial for the IL-7/IL-15-dependent development of NKp46+ ILCs and protection from intestinal inflammation by ILC1s. (in Revision)
  1. Ivanova DL, Denton SL, Fettel KD, Sondergeroth SK, Guiterez JM, Bangoura B, Dunay IR and Gigley JP. Innate lymphoid cells in protection, pathology and adaptive immunity during Apicomplexan infection. (in Revision)

8. French T, Düsedau HP, Steffen J, Biswas A, Ahmed N, Hartmann S, Schüler T, Schott BH, Dunay IR. Neuronal impairment following chronic Toxoplasma gondii   infection is aggravated by intestinal nematode challenge in an IFN-γ-dependent manner. J Neuroinflammation. 2019 Jul 29;16(1):159. doi: 10.1186/s12974-019-1539-8