Niklas Beyersdorf and Wolfgang Kastenmüller
A fine balance between viral replication and T cell-mediated anti-viral immunity is at the heart of chronic viral infections which constitute a significant health burden. The anti-viral T cell response itself is marked by the interplay of CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells and conventional CD4+ (Tconv cells) as well as CD8+ cytotoxic T cells. Our preliminary data show that there are differences in the expression and/ or activity of various sphingomyelinases in these three T cell subsets. In this project we will, thus, study in mice in vivo as well as with human T cells in vitro how sphingomyelinase activity contributes to immunoregulation, migration and effector functions of T cells during chronic viral infections. This knowledge might be exploited for novel therapeutic approaches against chronic viral infections in humans.