The thymus, which is the primary site of T cell development, is exquisitely sensitive to damage but also has a remarkable capacity for regeneration. The focus of the Dudakov lab is to elucidate the mechanisms underlying endogenous thymic regeneration so that they may be exploited into therapeutic strategies to boost immune function. In particular, we are studying:
1) the role of innate lymphoid cells and interleukin-22 in mediating thymic repair,
2) the damage-sensing triggers that lead to tissue regeneration,
3) the interaction between different regenerative networks in the thymus and
4) the generation of novel therapeutic strategies to boost immunity by stimulating thymic function.
To address these questions we use mouse models of thymic damage including total body irradiation (TBI), chemotherapy, acute viral and bacterial infection, stress, and age. Studying these models of damage, and the resulting endogenous regeneration, allow us to translate these findings into clinically applicable therapies.