Markus Kleinewietfeld Lab

Research focus

​We are interested in mechanisms of how immune system imbalance leads to human disease. Our group focuses on the role of specific immune cell subsets in this process, in particular on the interplay of anti-inflammatory CD4+ regulatory T cells and pro-inflammatory CD4+ effector T cells. Here, our major interest lies in the understanding of the processes that lead to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) or are related to metabolic- and cardiovascular diseases and cancer. To study these processes, we use a translational approach, combining the analysis of human samples and the use of experimental model systems by various immunological and molecular biology state-of-the-art techniques.

Currently we focus on the following topics:
a) Environmental factors influencing the immune cell balance and disease (nutrition, microbiota) (for overview:  Manzel et al., Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014, Binger et al., Pflugers Arch. 2015, Jörg et al., Cell Mol Life Sci. 2016)
b) Plasticity of T cell subsets in health and disease (for overview: Kleinewietfeld et al., Semin Immunol. 2013 Nov & Immunol Rev. 2014)


Sodium in the microenvironment regulates immune responses and tissue homeostasisMüller D. N Wilck N Haase S Kleinewietfeld Markus Linker R. ANATURE REVIEWS IMMUNOLOGY, 19, 243-254, 2019
Salt-responsive gut commensal modulates TH17 axis and diseaseWilck N Matus M. Kearney S. M Olesen S. W Forslund K Bartolomaeus H Haase S Mahler A Balogh A Marko L Vvedenskaya O Kleiner F. H Tsvetkov D Klug L Costea P. I Sunagawa S Maier L Rakova N Schatz V Neubert P Fratzer C Krannich A Gollasch M Grohme D. A Côrte-Real Beatriz Gerlach R. G Basic M Typas A Wu C. J. Titze J Jantsch J Boschmann M Dechend R Kleinewietfeld Markus Kempa S Bork P Linker R. A Alm Ej Muller D. NNATURE, 551, 585-589, 2017
Genetic and epigenetic fine mapping of causal autoimmune disease variantsFarh K. K Marson A Zhu J Kleinewietfeld Markus Housley W. J Beik S Shoresh N Whitton H Ryan R. J Shishkin A. A Hatan M Carrasco-Alfonso M. J Mayer D Luckey C. J Patsopoulos N. A De Jager P. L Kuchroo V. K Epstein C. B Daly M. B Hafler D. A Bernstein BNATURE, 518, 337-43, 2015
Regulatory T cells in autoimmune neuroinflammationKleinewietfeld M. Hafler D. AIMMUNOLOGICAL REVIEWS, 259, 231-44, 2014
Sodium chloride drives autoimmune disease by the induction of pathogenic TH17 cellsKleinewietfeld M. Manzel A Titze J Kvakan H Yosef N Linker R. A Muller D. N Hafler D. ANATURE, 496, 518-22, 2013

Job openings


Salty diet reduces tumor growth by tackling immune cells

05/06/2019 - A study by a research team led by Markus Kleinewietfeld (VIB-UHasselt) shows that high salt intake inhibits tumor growth in mice. The effect seems to be due to a change in function of certain immune cells which play a critical role in cancer immunity.

Gut bacteria are sensitive to salt

15/11/2017 - Common salt reduces the number of certain lactic acid bacteria in the gut of mice and humans according to a study published in Nature by an interdisciplinary research team including Professor Markus Kleinewietfeld from VIB and Hasselt University.

Nils-ilja-richter award 2015 goes to Markus Kleinewietfeld

05/04/2016 - ​The German Society for Autoimmune Diseases (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Autoimmunerkrankungen e.V., DGfAE) has presented the 2015 Nils-Ilja-Richter Award to Markus Kleinewietfeld(VIB/UHasselt).

VIB starts up a research group on multiple sclerosis at UHasselt

24/11/2015 - The VIB/UHasselt Kleinewietfeld Lab was officially opened. This research group is led by Prof. Markus Kleinewietfeld, he was appointed through an international selection process to further expand on his MS research at VIB and the Hasselt University.

Markus Kleinewietfeld

Markus Kleinewietfeld

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)


PhD: Max-Delbrück Ctr for Mol Med & Free Univ. Berlin, Germany, 2006
Postdoc: Max-Delbrück Ctr for Mol Med, Berlin, Germany, 2006-09, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, 2009-10 and Broad Inst. MIT & Harvard Univ., Cambridge, USA, 2009-14
Associate Research Scientist: Yale School of Med, New Haven, USA, 2010-13
Group leader: Technische Universität Dresden, Germany, 2013-15

VIB group leader and Associate Professor at UHasselt since November 2015.

Contact Info

VIB Center for Inflammation ResearchHasselt UniversityAgoralaan bus C 3590 DIEPENBEEK