Lymph node swelling (LN) is a classical hallmark of immunity. This expansion is observed by doctors, researchers and patients, yet as obvious as this process is, our understanding of the remodelling mechanisms involved are in their infancy. Lymph node remodelling is rapid and yet completely reversible, occurring countless times throughout our lifetimes.
The architecture of lymphoid organs is key to the effective operation of our immune system and is dictated by structures formed by non-haematopoetic stromal cells, including endothelial cells, and fibroblasts. Beyond their structural roles, stromal cells play an active role in immune responses, and the field of stromal immunology has become one of the most dynamic and exciting areas of immunology research.
In the lab we focus on the changing behaviour of fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs) throughout cycles of lymph node remodelling. The purpose of this project is to understand how lymph node remodelling occurs and is resolved, repeatedly; to understand immunity in a whole organ context. We use a range of models from FRC cell lines to in vivo studies studying the whole organ. We are especially interested in how the function of FRCs is directed by their interactions with neighbouring immune cells such as the arriving antigen-bearing dendritic cells.