Prof Clare Lloyd
Imperial College London, UK
Keynote Speech: Local and environmental cues dictate the nature of the pulmonary immune response
Maintaining the balance between immune homeostasis and inappropriate immune activation and associated pathology is particularly complex at mucosal sites that are constantly exposed to potentially antigenic particles. The growth and maturity of the peripheral immune system and subsequent development of pulmonary immunity in early life is dictated by host, environmental and microbial factors. Dysregulation during the critical window of immune development in the postnatal years results in disease which impacts on life-long lung health. Asthma is a common disease in childhood and is often preceded by wheezing illnesses during the preschool years. However, the mechanisms underlying development of wheeze and how and why only some children progress to asthma is unknown. We have examined immune pathways in the respiratory tract during early life using a combination of samples isolated from children with severe therapy resistant asthma and a well characterised neonatal model of allergic inflammation. IL-13 producing T cells and innate lymphoid cells are present in the airways of children with severe asthma despite inhaled steroid treatment. Investigation into the cells and molecules regulating allergic immune responses in early life has determined that IL-13 producing T cells are vital for development of airway hyperresponsiveness and that the cellular source of IL-13 varies according to age of allergen exposure. Moreover, we have shown that the local environment provides directional cues that dictate movement of cells within the lung. This presentation will focus on the cells and molecules that govern the nature and magnitude of pulmonary responses to allergen during early life.
I am a Wellcome Senior Fellow in Basic Biomedical Sciences, Professor of Respiratory Immunology, Head of the Division of Respiratory Sciences at the National Heart and Lung Institute, and Vice Dean for Institutional Affairs in the Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London. I undertook BSc and PhD degrees in Immunology at Kings College London, before completing Postdocs at Guys Hospital London and Harvard Medical School, Boston. I then spent time at a Biotech company – Millennium Pharmaceuticals – in the USA before returning to the UK to take up my and start my own lab.
My work explores the interactions between resident lung cells and infiltrating inflammatory cells to determine how these interactions influence development and resolution of pulmonary inflammation. A particular focus is how the genetic background of an individual and the external environment influences epithelial-immune interactions, particularly with respect to development of allergic immune responses in early life. The lab uses a mixture of in vivo mouse models and in vitro culture systems using cells from patients to investigate the mechanisms underlying the pulmonary immune response to inhaled allergens and pathogens across a range of different lung diseases.