RICCI Carolina


Supervisori: Prof. Pucillo e Dott.ssa Tonon

Relationship between microenvironment and immune system: context-dependent characteristics of B lymphocytes

My project aims to study context-dependent characteristics of B lymphocytes acquired from the surrounding microenvironment. The intestine is one of the largest compartments through which the immune system is continually exposed to non-self antigens and immunomodulatory agents derived from the diet and/or produced by the commensal microbiota. Among all metabolites, I focus on short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and their role in B cells’ education and shaping toward the immunomodulatory functional state of regulatory B cells (Breg).
Through in vitro experiments in which human B cells are treated with SCFAs, I am investigating the expression and secretion of immune-modulatory cytokines (e.g. IL-10), the B cell phenotype by flow cytometry, and the molecular pathways involved in these phenomena.
Subsequently, I will evaluate the correlation between SCFAs composition and B cells differentiation/function ex vivo in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients treated with Ocrelizumab (anti-CD20 antibody), a human model for B cell depletion and repopulation. For all subjects, I will characterize B cells before, during, and after treatment. In parallel, I will analyze the composition of SCFAs in serum and feces by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. If this association will be verified, it could allow intervening in the composition of the SCFAs and its effect on Breg skewing, with a final perspective to exert a positive effect in pathological conditions in which Breg have a fundamental role.