Our mission is to understand how the immune system in the intestine functions in both health and disease. To this end, we have established and developed several innovative approaches for spatiotemporal studies of immune cells in the human gut.
In collaboration with surgeons and gastroenterologists at our hospital, we have unique access to clinical relevant material from the intestine. As an example of such collaboration, we have developed an approach to study the turnover and longevity of immune cells in the gut. Some patients with diabetes receive a transplanted pancreas together with a piece of the small intestine (see figure). Receiving biopsies at different time point over the first year after transplantation, we have been able to determine the lifespan of multiple immune cell subsets. Extending these studies with carbon dating we found that a subset of plasma cells in the small intestine have a median life span of more than 20 years (Figure).
More recently, we have established methods to integrate single cell RNA sequencing with spatial transcriptomics and multi-colour immunofluorescence. We have recently finalized a paper characterizing the macrophages in the colon using this approach and we are currently developing these methods further. Integrating multiomic approaches (scRNAseq/scTCRseq/scBCRseq/scATACseq) with spatial analysis and the establishment of intestinal organoids, our aim is to significantly advance our understanding of how our mucosal immune system functions.