Adrian Liston

Research Summary

The Liston laboratory works on regulatory T cells. These are a type of white blood cell that act to suppress the rest of the immune response, preventing spontaneous autoimmune disease and acting as a rheostat to control just how active our immune system is. The number of these cells in our blood goes up as we get old, which may contribute to the immune-suppressed state of older persons. We seek to understand these cells, using both patient material and mouse models, so that we can harness their power to fine-tune the immune system for healthy ageing.

Latest Publications

Rejuvenating conventional dendritic cells and T follicular helper cell formation after vaccination.
Stebegg M, Bignon A, Hill DL, Silva-Cayetano A, Krueger C, Vanderleyden I, Innocentin S, Boon L, Wang J, Zand MS, Dooley J, Clark J, Liston A, Carr E, Linterman MA

Germinal centres (GCs) are T follicular helper cell (Tfh)-dependent structures that form in response to vaccination, producing long-lived antibody secreting plasma cells and memory B cells that protect against subsequent infection. With advancing age the GC and Tfh cell response declines, resulting in impaired humoral immunity. We sought to discover what underpins the poor Tfh cell response in ageing and whether it is possible to correct it. Here, we demonstrate that older people and aged mice have impaired Tfh cell differentiation upon vaccination. This deficit is preceded by poor activation of conventional dendritic cells type 2 (cDC2) due to reduced type 1 interferon signalling. Importantly, the Tfh and cDC2 cell response can be boosted in aged mice by treatment with a TLR7 agonist. This demonstrates that age-associated defects in the cDC2 and Tfh cell response are not irreversible and can be enhanced to improve vaccine responses in older individuals.

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eLife, 9, 1, 24 Mar 2020

DOI: 10.7554/eLife.52473

PMID: 32204792

Stem-cell-derived human microglia transplanted in mouse brain to study human disease.
Mancuso R, Van Den Daele J, Fattorelli N, Wolfs L, Balusu S, Burton O, Liston A, Sierksma A, Fourne Y, Poovathingal S, Arranz-Mendiguren A, Sala Frigerio C, Claes C, Serneels L, Theys T, Perry VH, Verfaillie C, Fiers M, De Strooper B

Although genetics highlights the role of microglia in Alzheimer's disease, one-third of putative Alzheimer's disease risk genes lack adequate mouse orthologs. Here we successfully engraft human microglia derived from embryonic stem cells in the mouse brain. The cells recapitulate transcriptionally human primary microglia ex vivo and show expression of human-specific Alzheimer's disease risk genes. Oligomeric amyloid-β induces a divergent response in human versus mouse microglia. This model can be used to study the role of microglia in neurological diseases.

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Nature neuroscience, , 1546-1726, 2019

PMID: 31659342

Longitudinal In Vivo Assessment of Host-Microbe Interactions in a Murine Model of Pulmonary Aspergillosis.
Saini S, Poelmans J, Korf H, Dooley JL, Liang S, Manshian BB, Verbeke R, Soenen SJ, Vande Velde G, Lentacker I, Lagrou K, Liston A, Gysemans C, De Smedt SC, Himmelreich U

The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus is ubiquitous in nature and the most common cause of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) in patients with a compromised immune system. The development of IPA in patients under immunosuppressive treatment or in patients with primary immunodeficiency demonstrates the importance of the host immune response in controlling aspergillosis. However, study of the host-microbe interaction has been hampered by the lack of tools for their non-invasive assessment. We developed a methodology to study the response of the host's immune system against IPA longitudinally in vivo by using fluorine-19 magnetic resonance imaging (F MRI). We showed the advantage of a perfluorocarbon-based contrast agent for the in vivo labeling of macrophages and dendritic cells, permitting quantification of pulmonary inflammation in different murine IPA models. Our findings reveal the potential of F MRI for the assessment of rapid kinetics of innate immune response against IPA and the permissive niche generated through immunosuppression.

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iScience, 20, 2589-0042, 2019

PMID: 31581067