Our main research aim is to investigate whether T-cell associated chemokines may serve as clinical markers in virus infections. Furthermore, we aim to develop new diagnostic tools and deepen the understanding of infections with Parvovirus B19.
Chemokines are small cytokines which regulate immune cell trafficking and thereby shape the immune response against a specific pathogen. By recruiting T-cells with antiviral and pro-inflammatory capabilities to the site of the infection, certain chemokines are thus essential to control virus replication, but on the other hand mediate tissue injury. Therefore, we aim to assess the potential of such chemokines as markers in clinical virology to determine the infection stage (grade of immune activation), the course (resolution vs. persistence), the disease severity (inflammatory level) and the outcome of antiviral therapy in diverse viral infections.
Recently, we introduced such chemokine analyses as a tool in the diagnosis of infections with Parvovirus B19 (B19V), a virus which we are especially interested in. While the clinical course of B19V infections is usually mild, B19V may have considerable clinical significance during pregnancy, calling for an accurate virological diagnosis. In addition to chemokine analyses, we therefore currently develop new diagnostic strategies (i.e. comprehensive serological assays like epitope-type specificity tests) to better stage B19V infection and thereby more accurately evaluate its complication risk in pregnant women. Since it has been recently demonstrated that B19V may also cause long-term persistence in certain individuals, it is our future research aim to investigate the pathogenic implications of this phenomenon.