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Understanding the cross-talk between innate immune cells, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue and how this is altered with ageing and obesity?

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Jones
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Ageing is associated with a progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass (sarcopenia) and an associated increase in adiposity, leading to increased levels of inflammatory cytokines. Importantly, ageing is also associated with a decline in the innate immune function, known as immunosenescence. Importantly, recent studies have suggested that cross-talk exists between innate immune cells and skeletal muscle and adipose tissue which may mediate sarcopenia and immunosenesence.

It is known that skeletal muscle contains a population of resident immune cells, and additional immune cells infiltrate skeletal muscle in ageing individuals who develop obesity and type II diabetes (inflammaging), where they can secrete numerous growth factors and cytokines which are candidate mediators of skeletal muscle regeneration and remodelling (2). In turn, sarcopenia and the increase in adiposity with ageing alters the expression of adipokines and myokines, for example secretion of IL-15, which impact on innate immune cell functionality, in particular Natural Killer cells (3). Furthermore, the prevalence of sarcopenia is greater in obese older individuals (4), where it is associated with a greater inflammatory burden and therefore we also expect these age-related changes in immune function to be exacerbated in sarcopenic obesity.

We hypothesise that pathological cross-talk between innate immune cells, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue with ageing drives sarcopenia and immunosenescence and this is exacerbated in elderly patients who are obese.

The aims of this proposal are therefore to examine the cross-talk signalling pathways between immune cell function, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue and determine how this is altered with ageing and in individuals who are obese. To do this we will collect blood samples from elderly and young adults who are either obese or lean. The profile of innate immune cells with regards cell numbers, immune cell function and production of relevant growth factors and cytokines will be assessed.

We will then explore the cross-talk signalling between young vs old innate immune cells and skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. In brief, these studies will examine the effect of growth factors and cytokines from different innate immune cell populations on primary skeletal muscle cell proliferation, differentiation (MyoD and myogenin) and the expression of known muscle anabolic and catabolic mediators (calpains, E3 ligases). In turn, we will examine the effect of muscle and adipose secreted cytokines/myokines on the function of innate immune cells.

To apply, please submit your CV and a covering email/letter for consideration by the Supervisor.

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funding applicants only. Overseas applicants will need to meet the UoB English requirements which are IELTS of 7.0 overall with no less than 6.5 in any band or Pearson Academic test..

References

1. Sakuma and Yamaguchi J Int Endocrinol, 2013.
2. Pillon N et al., Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 304, 2012
3. Lutz & Quinn. Aging 4(8), 2012.
4. Srikanthan P et al Plos One, 2010

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Clinical Medicine?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 164.15

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