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AG Chevalier / Chevalier lab

PD Dr. Nina Chevalier

Group Leader

Margarete von Wrangell fellow

Professional Career

1998-2005 Medical School, University Freiburg
2001-2004 MD Thesis with Prof. DR. M. Müller, Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University Freiburg
2006-2008 Residency Internal Medicine, Department Hematology & Oncology, University Hospital Freiburg
2008/2009 Visiting Scientist with Prof. Dr. F. Sallusto, Institute of Research in Biomedicine (IRB), Bellinzona, Switzerland 
2009-2012 Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Dr. Ch. Mackay, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney and Monash University, Melbourne Australia
since 2013 Residency and Clinician Scientist in Internal Medicine, Department of Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology
since 2016 Margarete von Wrangell Fellow and Group leader
2022 Sabine-von-Kleist-Habilitationspreises

Molecular and immunologic mechanisms linking environmental triggers to autoimmunity

Western countries are confronted with a disturbing increase in the incidence of immune disorders, including autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Autoimmunity results from a dysfunction of the immune system in which the body attacks its own tissues. Our knowledge on the etiology of autoimmune diseases is increasing but still very limited. Technological advances and coordinated international efforts have contributed significantly to understanding the role of genetic risk factors. Low to moderate concordance of autoimmunity in identical twins supports, however, the idea that the etiology involves both genetic and environmental factors. Various environmental factors, including infectious agents and chemical toxins as well as lifestyle factors have been associated with development of autoimmunity. In contrast to genetic research, studies on such environmental factors have received limited attention and are in the focus of our interest. It is our aim to identify environmental or external factors that trigger immune disorders and to understand incited underlying pathways. To investigate mechanisms of autoimmunity, our group uses predominantly models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Pattern recognition receptor (PRR) and tyrosine-protein phosphatase signalling in the immune-pathogenesis of autoimmunity

SLE is characterized by autoantibodies to diverse autoantigens, especially to nuclear components such as double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) or nucleosomes. Still, it remains unclear why poorly immunogenic molecules such as dsDNA and nucleosomes become targets of humoral autoimmunity in SLE. We are studying how increased signaling via pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) through pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) or endogenous damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) released from damaged or stressed host cells and tissues contributes to the break of tolerance against nuclear antigens and development of autoimmunity. Moreover, we are studying the effects of  protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) on lymphocyte function in the context of autoimmunity. Protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) are important regulators of immune cells and may significantly influence the development of autoimmune diseases, such as SLE and RA.

Current Funding

  • Margarete von Wrangell-Habilitationsstipendium
  • B. Braun Stiftung
  • Müller-Fahnenberg Stiftung

Past Funding

  • DFG
  • Fritz Thyssen Stiftung
  • Forschungskommission Freiburg
  • Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft, Universität Freiburg
  • Dr. Dr. Sabine Freifrau von Kleist-Stiftung

  1. Chevalier N., Tan J.K., Mason L.J., Robert R., McKenzie C., Lim F., Wong C.H., Macia L., Thorburn A.N., Russ B.E., Masters S.L., Mackay C.R. (2016) Avenues to autoimmune arthritis triggered by diverse remote inflammatory challenges. Journal of Autoimmunity. Accepted for publication
  2. Chevalier N., Macia L., Tan J.K., Mason L.J., Robert R., Thorburn A.N., Wong C.H., Tsai L.M., Bourne K., Brink R., Yu D., Mackay C.R. (2016). The Role of Follicular Helper T Cell Molecules and Environmental Influences in Autoantibody Production and Progression to Inflammatory Arthritis in Mice. Arthritis & Rheumatology 68:1026
  3. Chevalier N., Mueller M., Mougiakakos D., Ihorst G., Marks R., Schmitt-Graeff A., Veelken H. (2016) Analysis of dendritic cell subpopulations in follicular lymphoma with respect to the tumor immune microenvironment. Leukemia & Lymphoma 12: 1
  4. Thorburn A.N., McKenzie C.I., Shen S, Stanley D, Macia L, Mason L.J., Roberts L.E., Y. Wong C.H., Shim R., Robert R., Chevalier N., Tan J.K., Mariño E., Moore R.J., Wong L., McConville M.J., Tull D.L., Wood L.G., Murphy V.E., Mattes J., Gibson P.G., Mackay C.R. (2015). Evidence that asthma is a developmental origin disease influenced by maternal diet and bacterial metabolites. Nature Communications 23: 7320
  5. Macia L., Tan J., Vieira A.T., Leach K., Stanley D., Luong S., Maruya M., Ian McKenzie C., Hijikata A., Wong C., Binge L., Thorburn A.N., Chevalier N., Ang C., Marino E., Robert R., Offermanns S., Teixeira M.M., Moore R.J., Flavell R.A., Fagarasan S., Mackay C.R. (2015). Metabolite-sensing receptors GPR43 and GPR109A facilitate dietary fibre-induced gut homeostasis through regulation of the inflammasome. Nature Communications 6: 6734
  6. Chevalier N., Thorburn A.N., Macia L., Tan J., Juglair L., Yagita H., Yu D., Hansbro P.M., Mackay C.R. (2015). Inflammation and lymphopenia trigger autoimmunity by suppression of IL-2-controlled regulatory T cell and increase of IL-21-mediated effector T cell expansion. Journal of Immunology 193:4845
  7. Chevalier N. (2015). Quantifying Helper Cell Function of Human TFH Cells In Vitro. Methods in Molecular Biology 1291: 209
  8. Tsai L.M., He J., Leong Y.A., Hu X., Ma C.S., Chevalier N., Karnowski A., Belz G., Ding Y., Sun X., Wie W., Cook M.C., Riminton D.S., Veillette A., Schwartzberg P.L., Mackay F., Brink R., Tangye S.G., Vinuesa C.G., Mackay C.R., Li Z. and Di Yu D. (2013) Circulating CCR7loPD-1hi CXCR5+ CD4 T cells identify active follicular T helper programs in health and disease. Immunity. 39: 770
  9. Thorburn A.N., Brown A.C., Nair P.M., Chevalier N., Foster P.S., Gibson P.G. and Hansbro P.M. (2013) Pneumococcal components induce regulatory T cells that attenuate the development of allergic airways disease by deviating and suppressing the immune response to allergen. Journal of Immunology 191: 4112
  10. Chevalier N., Jarrossay D., Ho E., Avery D.T., Ma C.S., Yu D., Sallusto F., Tangye S.G. and Mackay C.R. (2011) CXCR5 expressing human central memory CD4 T cells and their relevance for humoral immune responses. Journal of Immunology 186; 5556

Klinik für Rheumatologie und Klinische Immunologie

Zentrum für Translationale Zellforschung
Breisacher Str. 115
79106 Freiburg

Telefon: 0761 270-78090


We are always looking for research assistants!
Contact: nina.chevalier@uniklinik-freiburg.de