Bart Lambrecht and Hamida Hammad Lab

Research focus

​Research in our group is focused on unraveling the functions of lung dendritic cells and epithelial cells in asthma and respiratory viral infection. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by eosinophilic airway inflammation, goblet cell metaplasia and bronchial hyperreactivity. A frequent cause of exacerbations is respiratory viral infection. There is an epidemic of asthma in the Western world, of which the cause in unclear, and for which novel forms of prevention and treatment are urgently needed. In allergic asthma, allergen-specific Th2 lymphocytes cause inflammation, as well as formation of allergen specific IgE, also known as allergic sensitization. 

In the past years, our lab has found crucial roles for antigen presenting dendritic cells (DCs) in causing allergic sensitization. Using the logic of Koch’s postulates, we have shown that DCs also play a crucial role also in maintenance of chronic airway inflammation. 
First, we have found increased numbers of activated DCs in the airways of humans and mice with asthma. Next, repeated administrations of allergen-exposed DCs to the airways led to all typical features of asthma and even to long term airway remodeling, characteristic of chronic asthma. 
Finally, and most importantly, the removal of DCs from the airways of mice with chronic ongoing inflammation cures all the features of the disease. These studies showed that targeting airway DCs could be a novel therapeutic intervention strategy. However, our studies have also mentioned the crucial role of DCs in the clearance of respiratory viruses. In an attempt to find novel pathways to interfere with the activation of DCs, and thus to come up with new therapeutic interventions that selectively target DCs without putting patients at risk for infection, research in the group is currently focusing on the way airway DCs get activated to cause allergic disease. In this respect, all models have recently centered around the real-life allergen house dust mite (HDM). Inhalation of HDM can only lead to asthma when airway epithelial cells are triggered through TLR4 and release endogenous danger signals such as ATP or uric acid and pro-Th2 innate cytokines like IL1, IL25, IL33, GM-CSF and TSLP.
Moreover, it was shown that innate immune cells such as basophils or eosinophils would amplify Th2 responses initiated by DCs. Known environmental risk factors like cigarette smoke exposure and diesel exhaust particles promote HDM-driven asthma by triggering the function of DCs, epithelial cells or innate immune cells.

In recent work, we are unravelling how metabolism and the unfolded protein response intersect with the process of allergic sensitization and viral infection. The ultimate goal is to find novel treatment strategies that alter the long term course of asthma and can prevent or cure the disease.

> Video on asthma and dentritic cells, research of Bart Lambrecht and Hamida Hammad - ©VIB, 2014​​

Publications

Transitional B cells commit to marginal zone B cell fate by Taok3-mediated surface expression of ADAM10Hammad H* Vanderkerken M* Pouliot P* Deswarte K Toussaint W Vergote K Vandersarren L Janssens S Ramou I Savvides S Haigh J Hendriks R Kopf M Craessaerts K De Strooper B Kearney J Conrad D Lambrecht BNATURE IMMUNOLOGY, 18, 313-320, 2017* These authors contributed equally
The immunology of the allergy epidemic and the hygiene hypothesisLambrecht B* Hammad H*NATURE IMMUNOLOGY, 18, 1076-1083, 2017* These authors contributed equally
Regulated IRE1-dependent mRNA decay sets the threshold for dendritic cell survivalTavernier S Osorio F Vandersarren L Vetters J Vanlangenakker N Van Isterdael G Vergote K De Rycke R Parthoens E Van De Laar L Iwawaki T Del Valle J Hu C Lambrecht B* Janssens S*NATURE CELL BIOLOGY, 19, 698-710, 2017* These authors contributed equally
Perinatal Activation of the Interleukin-33 Pathway Promotes Type 2 Immunity in the Developing LungDe Kleer I* Kool M De Bruijn M Willart M Van Moorleghem J Schuijs M Plantinga M Beyaert R Hams E Fallon P Hammad H Hendriks R Lambrecht B*IMMUNITY, 45, 1285-1298, 2016* These authors contributed equally
Farm dust and endotoxin protect against allergy through A20 induction in lung epithelial cellsSchuijs M* Willart M* Vergote K Gras D Deswarte K Ege M Madeira F Beyaert R Van Loo G Bracher F Von Mutius E Chanez P Lambrecht B* Hammad H*SCIENCE, 349, 1106-10, 2015* These authors contributed equally

Job openings

News

International recognition for Bart Lambrecht (VIB-UGent-UZGent)

09/09/2017 - ​Prof. Bart Lambrecht receives the ‘2017 ERS Gold medal in Asthma’. With this award the European Respiratory Society recognizes Lambrecht for his outstanding contribution in the field of asthma and his current research projects in asthma.

Crucial role for XBP1 in several aspects of DC functioning and homeostasis

04/05/2017 - Type 1 conventional dendritic cells (cDC1s) play a crucial role in orchestrating the balance between protective anti-viral or anti-tumour immunity and tolerance to self-antigens.

Surprise finding leads to new insights into splenic B cell differentiation

02/02/2017 - Bart Lambrecht & team demonstrated that mice genetically lacking in Taok3 did not develop MZB cells & are more susceptible to bacterial infection. Insights lead to potential new molecular therapies for genetic conditions, asthma and diabetes.

Protein IL-33 found to drive allergic sensitivity in the neonatal lung

20/01/2017 - ​Scientists from the lab of Bart Lambrecht (VIB-UGent) and Erasmus University have found evidence that interleukin-33 (IL-33), a protein created by white blood cells, is a key driver of allergic sensitivity in the lungs of newborns.

Research paves the way for monocyte based cell therapy

19/04/2016 - ​VIB-UGent researchers reveal that adult circulating monocytes that get access to the macrophage niche in the liver or the lung can acquire identical tissue-specific macrophage functions and self-maintenance capacities as macrophages of embryonic origin

Why growing up on a farm protects against asthma and allergies

11/12/2015 - ​Bart Lambrecht and Hamida Hammad have established a solid scientific basis for the claim that kids who grow up on farms – most notably the ones that house livestock – are far less likely to develop asthma or allergies.

Growing up on a farm provides protection against asthma and allergies

03/09/2015 - Researchers at VIB (a leading life sciences institute in Flanders, Belgium) and Ghent University have successfully established a causal relationship between exposure at a young age to so-called farm dust and protection against asthma and allergies.

Cell sorting at VIB

16/04/2015 - Cell sorting technology enables rapid separation of large numbers of specific cell populations with high purity, recovery, and yield, starting from single cell suspensions.

Bart Lambrecht

Bart Lambrecht

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)

Bio

​PhD: Ghent University, Belgium, 1999
Professor of Pulmonary Medicine: Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2005
Professor of Pulmonary Medicine: Ghent University, Belgium, 2007
VIB Group Leader since 2011
VIB Science Director since 2012

Contact Info

VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation ResearchUGent-VIB Research Building FSVMTechnologiepark 927 9052 GENTRoute description
Hamida Hammad

Hamida Hammad

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)

Bio

PhD: Institut Pasteur, Lille, France, 2001
Postdoc: Erasmus Medical Ctr, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2001-04
Assistant Professor: Erasmus Medical Ctr, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2004-07
Associate Professor: Ghent Univ., Ghent, Belgium, 2009-14
Professor: Ghent Univ., Ghent, Belgium since 2014
VIB Group leader since 2015

Contact Info

VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation ResearchUGent-VIB Research Building FSVMTechnologiepark 927 9052 GENTRoute description