How diet impacts the immune system in early life

Manuela Ferreira


    Manuela Ferreira


    Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular da Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal


    Infectious diseases remain one of the leading causes of death among children under five, while malnutrition has been shown to be a risk factor that worsens the prognosis. In view of this, there is an urgent need to attain a better understanding of how the intestine works and of the dialogue between the immune system and food ingested. This could pave the way for new preventive strategies, potential targets and effective treatments for gastrointestinal infections.

    The project focuses on investigating one type of immune cell, intraepithelial T-lymphocytes, which are found in the intestinal epithelium (the lining of the gut) and act as the first line of immune defence and in regulation of the metabolism.

    Despite many advances in recent years, the mechanism by which these lymphocytes develop, as well as their specific function, is still unknown. In this project, the researchers will focus on analysing the role of diet-derived retinoids – a type of chemical compound related to vitamin A and capable of regulating the growth of epithelial cells – on T lymphocytes, and on determining their function in the intestine in early life.


    Role of diet-derived retinoids in CD8αα intraepithelial lymphocytes and intestinal defence at early-life