Leonie Taams

Leonie Taams

Professor

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Personal profile

Research interests

The Taams lab investigates the initiation, perpetuation and regulation of the immune response in humans, during health and inflammation. Immune regulation is an essential process to prevent autoimmunity or chronic inflammation such as occurs in rheumatoid arthritis. We are particularly interested in understanding how T cells, monocytes and their soluble mediators contribute to inflammation and immune regulation.

Part of our research focuses on a subset of CD4+ T lymphocytes with specialised immunosuppressive function. These so-called regulatory T cells (Tregs) have been previously shown to potently suppress adaptive immune responses. More recent work from our lab and others indicates that these Tregs also have distinct suppressive effects on innate immune cells, such as monocytes. Our current work is aimed at determining the molecular basis and the functional consequences of Treg-mediated monocyte modulation. We also investigate if and how inflammatory conditions alter Treg function, with a particular focus on activated monocytes.

We are equally interested to know how pro-inflammatory effector T cells can be steered towards anti-inflammatory function. In this context, we investgiate the cellular and molecular mechanisms via which TNF inhibitor drugs affect uman effector T cells in vitro and in vivo.

A third research focus is the induction and regulation of IL-17 producing T cells, both in the CD4+ and the CD8+ T cell compartment. IL-17 is a potent pro-inflammatory cytokine that can contribute to inflammation and bone destruction in inflammatory arthritis. Our aim is to define the molecular and cellular processes that drive and regulate IL-17 producing cells. We also investigate the presence of IL-17 producing cells in the inflamed joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and how their presence correlates with measurements of active disease.

A final focus of the lab is on the presence, phenotype and function of human monocytes and  macrophages during steady state and inflammation. Through gene expression profiling and phenotypic and functional characterisation we aim to identify novel pathways that contribute to the regulation of monocyte function during inflammation. 

Research interests (short)

Inflammation; Immune regulation; regulatory T cells; Th17 cells; IL-17; monocytes/macrophages; rheumatoid arthritis; IL-10.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Anergic T cells as active regulators of the immune response, Utrecht University

Award Date: 1 Jan 1999

Master of Science, Utrecht University

Award Date: 1 Jan 1994

Bachelor of Science, Utrecht University

Award Date: 1 Jan 1991

External positions

Editor-in-Chief, Clinical & Experimental Immunology, BSI British Society for Immunology

31 Jan 2001 → …

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