Sex-specific control of intercellular crosstalk in the skin

Many immunological and infectious diseases exhibit sex-specific variations and differences, with more females developing autoimmune diseases and males being more likely to develop certain infections. Although this is well documented by clinical observations, the underlying molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms are often unknown. For example, female skin often displays more resident immune cells than male skin; however, potential sex-specific functional differences are poorly understood. Currently, it is unclear when and by which factors (e.g., genetics, hormones, other physiological or environmental factors) sex-specific differences in immune cells arise, whether there are sex-specific subpopulations of resident immune cells, how communication of epidermal immune cells with their local environment differs between the sexes, and how these differences affect skin immunity, function, and systemic health. Our goal is to experimentally fill these knowledge gaps to provide much needed insight into the sex-specific and sex-neutral properties of skin immune cells.

This project is part of our efforts within the Center for Gender-specific Biology and Medicine (CGBM). Scientists involved: Ann-Kathrin Burkhart, Franziska Klein (supported by a ZHMB-HOM Master fellowship).