Our body is composed of several cell types, such as epithelial, endothelial, stromal, immune, muscular and nerve cells which are the building blocks of our tissues and organs. Evolutionary optimized association between these cells ensure tissue homeostasis via nutrients distribution, waste products elimination and intercellular communications. We know little about how cells communicate during organ development, homeostasis and in diseases.
Christophe Pierreux and his team investigate intercellular communications involved in epithelial organ shaping, homeostasis and diseases. Tissue homeostasis and function rely on epithelial cells but also on various cell types present in the epithelial microenvironment and providing support, nutrition and defense. Using tissue imaging and cellular and molecular characterization of genetically-engineered mouse models, the lab aims to identify local epithelial niches, to decipher the physical and biochemical interactions between epithelial cells and their microenvironment, and to understand how these niches and interactions are altered in cancer and inflammation. Specifically, the group focuses on the vascular and immune microenvironment of the pancreas and thyroid gland. Besides this fundamental research aiming at advancing knowledge on tissue homeostasis, the laboratory has a strong commitment to develop innovative 3D and multicellular culture systems to better investigate and understand cellular interactions within specific microenvironments or test the effect of drugs and medicines in local niches.
Through their work on intercellular communication between epithelial cells and the vascular and immune microenvironment, researchers in the Pierreux lab seek to improve the understanding of the mechanisms that ensure tissue homeostasis and that are lost or hijacked in cancer.