Metabolism as a regulator of stressed haematopoiesis; implications for liver function during ageing

BERAZA_Q20DTP1

During homeostasis, our body’s immunological defence relies on the expansion and differentiation of haematopoietic stem cells (HSC). In response to infection, HSC rapidly generate immune cells that are recruited into the liver and the intestine to clear up the infection. This process is metabolically demanding as HSC require high loads of energy to orchestrate the immune response.

As we age, our immune system is less and less efficient as HSC self-renewal capacity is lower and linage commitment is compromised. For this reason, during ageing there is an increased incidence of malignancies (cancer) and chronic systemic inflammation, overall contributing to health decline.

The aim of this project is to define the mechanisms underpinning haematopoiesis and the immune response during ageing, with a focus on cell metabolism regulation.

To gain a better understanding of how haematopoiesis is regulated will enable us to propose strategies to preserve and improve the function of our immune system and to maintain health during ageing.

This project will be carried out at the Beraza Lab at Quadram Institute, combining research laboratories with clinical facilities, in close collaboration with the Rushworth Lab, based at the Norwich Medical School (University of East Anglia).

This collaborative project will enable the PhD student to learn a variety of in vivo techniques, including animal handling as well as isolation of immune cells. The student will receive training in molecular biology methodologies including, analysis of gene expression by qPCR and proteins by western blot, ELISA and immunohistochemistry. The student will also learn to characterise the different immune cells compartments by flow cytometry (FACS) and to perform histopathological analysis of different tissues.  As well, the student will achieve a series of valuable transferable skills essential for the progression of her/his scientific career.