Dr Katherine Woods

Scope 67: How the skin influences the gut during an allergy

24 October 2018

Cross-talk between the skin and the gut has been a focus of research for the translational immunology team. A recent project has been looking at how molecules produced in the skin during an allergic response influence the gut and the gut’s sensitivity to an allergen.

Dr Katherine Woods explains: “Alarmins are molecules secreted by many cells, in response to an allergen. For skin cells, these alarmins signal a barrier breach – a typical result from exposure to an allergen where the integrity of the skin is compromised. The alarmins then spread around the body, including places like the gut where it goes on to influence the local immune cells.”

How much of an influence alarmins such as the molecule TSLP (thymic stromal lipoprotein) have on the immune system in the gut, and how it may affect allergies, is something Dr Woods and the rest of her team are investigating thanks to funding from the Dairy Goat Co-operative.

“We’re looking at TSLP in detail to see whether it plays a role in accelerating allergies and cross-talk between different organs.”