Skip to main content

ACTERIA Doctoral Thesis Prize 2013 in Immunology

Dr. Elina Kiss

Dr. Kiss’ research activity focuses on defining links between diet and immunity, and has shown that the<strong> aryl hydrocarbon receptor controls pool size and function of innate lymphoid cells by sensing diet-derived signals.

The small intestinal lamina propria contains multiple, postnatally developing lymphoid follicles which are important places to ensure the first line defense at mucosal epithelial surfaces. The formation of these is controlled by ROR gamma t+ innate lymphoid cells (ILC). The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that is ubiquitously expressed in vertebrate cells. AhR ligands are environmentally derived and include dioxin and natural chemicals such as derivatives of tryptophan, bacterial metabolites, and phytochemicals. E. Kiss et al. showed that activation of AhR by these ligands is critical to postnatal expansion of ROR gamma t+ innate lymphoid cells (ILC). Additionally, she has demonstrated an essential role for IL-1 for the IL-22 production by ROR gamma t+ ILC, suggesting that dietary factors engaging with AhR affect not only cytokine expression but also the synthesis of defensins and other antimicrobial peptides, thereby influencing microbial composition.

Dr. Kiss and her colleagues have opened up a new line of research by providing a compelling link between diet and immune function.

University of Freiburg (Germany)