Allergy Research Group

Group Leader: Frank Kirstein

Frank Kirstein

Phone: +27 21 406 6035

Office: Wernher & Beit Bldg South S1.21

The Allergy Research Group aims to provide a better understanding of the immunological mechanisms involved in the onset and maintenance of allergic reactions including asthma.  Basic research in the Allergy Section has focused on the T-cell cytokine responses to allergens as well as the application of novel assays to identify sensitivity profiles. The focus is on the contributions of cytokines IL-4 and IL-13 to disease development on a cellular and tissue-specific level. To do this, researchers examine ovalbumin or house dust mite induced asthma as disease paradigms in transgenic mouse models. They use state-of-the-art techniques to analyse immune responses (multicolour FACS, intracellular cytokine staining) and lung pathology (whole body plethysmography, flexiVent).

Projects include:

  • Investigation of cellular and molecular mechanisms behind the progression from eczema (atopic dermatitis) to allergic asthma in mouse models
  • Investigation of allergic airway reactions with focus on the role of IL-4 and IL-13 using IL-4 receptor alpha deficient mice.
  • Investigation of allergen specific Th-17 responses and their influence on steroid sensitivity in mouse models of allergic asthma
  • Immunology of occupational non-allergic alveolitis
  • The role of β-glucan in the pathogenesis of asthma
  • Generation of transgenic mouse models


Recent Publications

  1. Horsnell, WG, Darby MG, Hoving JC, Nieuwenhuizen N, McSorley HJ, Ndlovu H, Bobat S, Kimberg M,  Kirstein F, Cutler AJ, DeWals B, Cunningham AF, Brombacher F. IL-4Rα-Associated Antigen Processing by B Cells Promotes Immunity in Nippostrongylus brasiliensis Infection. PLoS Pathogens 2013. 9(10): e1003662. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003662. I.F. 8.136.
  2. Gogishvili T, Lühder F, Kirstein F, Nieuwenhuizen N, Goebbels S, Beer-Hammer S, Pfeffer K, Reuter S, Taube C, Brombacher F and Hünig T. Interruption of CD28-mediated costimulation during allergen challenge protects mice from allergic airway disease. Journal Allergy Clinical Immunol 2012. 130:1394-403. I.F. 12.047.
  3. Nieuwenhuizen, N, Kirstein F, Jayakumar J, Emedi B, Hurdayal R, Horsnell WG, Lopata AL and  Brombacher F. Allergic airway disease is unaffected by the absence of IL-4 receptor alpha dependent alternatively activated macrophages. J Allergy Clinical Immunol 2012. 130:743-50. I.F. 12.047.
  4. Hoving JC, Kirstein F, Nieuwenhuizen N, Fick LC, Hobeika E, Reth M, Brombacher F. B Cells that Produce Immunoglobulin E Mediate Colitis in BALB/c Mice. Gastroenterology 2012. 142(1):96-108.
  5. Horsnell WG, Vira, A, Kirstein F, Mearns H, Hoving JC, Cutler AJ, Dewals B, Myburgh E, Kimberg M,  Arendse B, White N, Lopata AL, Burger PE, Brombacher f. IL-4Ralpha-responsive smooth muscle cells contribute to initiation of TH2 immunity and pulmonary pathology in Nippostrongylus brasiliensis infections. Mucosal Immunology 2011. 4:83-92. I.F. 7.000


Frank Kirstein - Google Scholar