Mapping Exposure-Induced Immune Effects: Connecting the Exposome and the Immunome

Immune-mediated disorders: take-aways from the 2nd EXIMIOUS Symposium

8 February 2022

More than 70 participants joined the second EXIMIOUS Symposium “Immune-mediated diseases: an interplay between environment and genetics” held online last Thursday, 3 February 2022. Did you miss it? Worry not, you can watch the full recording on the EXIMIOUS YouTube channel.

The four guest speakers, Prof. Ellen De Langhe (UZ Leuven, Belgium), Dr. Signe Hjuler Boudigaard Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark), Dr. Michael Pollard (The Scripps Research Institute, USA) and Dr. Tue Bjerg Bennike (Aalborg University, Denmark), each provided a different and unique lense through which to look at immune-mediated disorders, making the topic accessible for the non-expert audience while also sharing new insights for clinicians and epidemiologists.

The interplay between environment and genetics was explored through clinical case studies presented by Prof. De Langhe, the occupational perspective (i.e., how exposures experienced in the working environment might play a role in immuned-mediated disorders) discussed in terms of exposure to respirable crystalline silica by Dr. Boudigaard, the experimental animal models approach to studying autoimmune disorders associated to mercury exposure discussed by Dr. Pollard and the example of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulecrative colitis (UC) presented by Dr. Bennike. The common thread was clear, and as also recalled by the speakers, it can be summarised by the famous quote of Judith Stern “Genetics load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger”. 

While there is still much to be understood about this interplay of factors affecting our health, we take these symposia as opportunities to stimulate interest, raise awareness and hopefully also promote exchange of knowledge and further collaborations that can advance research towards a better understanding and, eventually, improved wellbeing.  

We’re looking forward to more exposome research highlights and insights during the Spring/Summer 2022 edition of the EXIMIOUS Symposium, so stay tuned. If you’d like to be notified about the next EXIMIOUS Symposium you can also subscribe here and we’ll send you an invitation in due time.

In the meanwhile, the next exposome-related event to look out for is the policy forum Researching the Roots of Obesity and the Impact across the Life-Course, planned for 30 March 2022 by the project LongITools, one of the projects that together with EXIMIOUS and other seven EU-funded projects is part of the Eurpean Human Exposome Network.