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Division of Infection and Immunity

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Dr Laura Pallett

UKRI Future Leaders Fellow

About

Research in the Pallett lab focusses on understanding how tissue-resident T cells and the underlying stromal cells ‘co-operate and communicate’ in the setting of fibrosis.

Research summary

The liver - our largest internal organ - acts as a central hub for many physiological processes. Immune responses within the liver are tightly controlled to prevent unnecessary organ damage. Although the liver has an unrivalled ability to regenerate when injured, persistent injury or inflammation can lead to the build-up of scar tissue as it attempts to repair. The build-up of such scar tissue (largely made up of extracellular matrix proteins) can results in liver dysfunction and the development of fibrosis/cirrhosis.

The liver is home to a number of 'residents', that provide specialised immune-surveillance and protection. A population of long-lived, tissue-resident T cells equipped with the necessary armoury can adapt phenotypically and functionally depending on cues from their microenvironment.

The liver also has a unique population of stromal cells, that when exposed to chronic injury become the master regulators of fibrosis. It is these overactivated stromal cells that differentiate into myofibroblasts that then produce excessive amounts of extracellular matrix proteins, causing the liver to increase in stiffness and functionality to ultimately deteriorate.

The Pallett lab is therefore interested in understanding the role for tissue-resident T cells in the setting of fibrosis and the bi-directional cellular crosstalk between T cells and the local stroma/extracellular matrix. In particular, the Pallett Lab is focussing on how these ‘local intrahepatic cells’ interact in both the healthy and diseased human liver, to inform the development of improved treatments for patients.

Selected publications

A full list of publications can be accessed via PubMed.