B Cell Research lab

Vanhee Stijn

Vanhee Stijn

Research Teamleader

B cell research in allergy, infection, and vaccination

B cells play an important role in mucosal responses towards environmental antigens and pathogens, through antigen presentation, production of antibodies and generation of serological memory. We study the various roles of B cells, and the molecular immunological mechanisms driving their activation, selection, and differentiation. For this we use models of allergic airway disease, asthma, viral infection, and vaccination.

Topic 1: Role of tertiary lymphoid organs in airway disease

Tertiary lymphoid organs (TLO) are de novo induced aggregates of immune cells, and hubs of local B cell responses at sites of chronic inflammation. We aim to understand the role of TLO B cell responses in different airway diseases and study the division of labor between B cell responses in TLO and secondary lymphoid organs like the lymph nodes.

Topic 2: Regulation of local and systemic IgE responses

Antibodies of the IgE isotype are important mediators in allergy and late onset asthma. We aim to unravel how IgE B cell responses are governed upon chronic mucosal inflammation, what is driving these responses and what drives their chronicity.

Topic 3: Role of natural antibodies in health and disease

Natural IgM can be detected in the absence of known immunization and is often defined as “polyreactive”. These IgM species are enriched in B cell subsets which arise during fetal and neonatal life. We aim to understand the role of natural IgM in modulating different airway diseases.

Areas of Expertise

  • B cell development
  • Germinal Center responses
  • Tertiary lymphoid organs
  • Immune receptor profiling

Technology Transfer Potential

  • Antibody discovery
  • Development of immune receptor transgenic mouse models

Selected publications

  • Verstaen K, et al. DALI (Diversity AnaLysis Interface) : a novel tool for the integrated analysis of multimodal single cell RNAseq data and immune receptor profiling. bioRxiv (2021).
  • Vanhee, S. et al. Lin28b controls a neonatal to adult switch in B cell positive selection. Sci Immunol 4 (2019). Visit ➚
  • Kristiansen, T. A., Vanhee, S. & Yuan, J. The influence of developmental timing on B cell diversity. Curr Opin Immunol 51, 7-13 (2018). Visit ➚
  • Declercq, J. et al. COVID-19 vaccination with BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 vaccines has the potential to induce nasal neutralizing antibodies. Allergy 77, 304-307 (2022). Visit ➚
  • Vidal-Quist, J. C. et al. RNA viruses alter house dust mite physiology and allergen production with no detected consequences for allergenicity. Insect Mol Biol 32, 173-186 (2023). Visit ➚