Experimental Research at the Psoriasis Research and Treatment Center

The Psoriasis Research and Treatment Center headed by PD Dr. med. Robert Sabat is an interdisciplinary center of the Institute of Medical Immunology and the Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology of the Charité. The center is comprised of the three working areas: Experimental Research, Clinical Research and Patient Care. Here you will find information about the Molecular Immunopathology Group headed by PD. Dr. rer. nat Kerstin Wolk, which belongs to the working field of experimental research.

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Molecular Immunopathology

The Molecular Immunopathology group focuses on the research of molecular and cellular mechanisms of the development and persistence of skin changes in chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as Psoriasis, Acne inversa/Hidradenitis suppurativa and Pityriasis rubra pilaris.

The inflamed skin

Studying the inflamed skin, the group especially explores:

  • The role of cytokines (e.g. the epidermis-targeting mediators IL-22, IL-29, IL-20, IL-19, IL-17, IL-24 and IL-36) and their organization in networks
  • The detailed characterization of immune cell infiltrates
  • The epigenetic changes of the local tissue cells
  • The disease-specific occurrence of skin hyperregeneration versus skin destruction.

In addition to skin alterations, patients often suffer from other diseases (so-called comorbidities) such as joint inflammation, intestinal inflammation and metabolic diseases (obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure). Therefore, the group investigates the mechanistic links between skin inflammation and comorbidities.
Further studies of the group focus on the regulation of the skin permeability barrier, the regulation of epidermal antiviral/antimicrobial competence, the identification of biomarkers for patient stratification and the establishment of in vitro and in vivo model systems for skin inflammation.

Investigative Systems

The investigation systems used by the experimental research group include:

  • Skin biopsies for expression studies
  • Freshly isolated and cultured cell populations from blood and skin
  • Reconstituted epidermal cultures
  • Cultures of excised total skin from patients and healthy donors
  • In vivo systems (models for skin inflammation and wound healing, cytokine overexpressing strains and strains single/multi-deficient for specific cytokine receptors)

The human samples bank, generated thanks to the close interaction with the center's clinical team, allows conducting a wide range of cross-disease investigations.