The lung microbiome – a potential key factor in the development of lung fibrosis in systemic sclerosis

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is one of the primary causes of death in systemic sclerosis (SSc). The majority of patients identify dyspnea as a major impairment of quality of life.

Recent research progress has provided important insights into the role of the residential bacteria (=microbiota) in health and disease. So far, research efforts have focused mainly on the role of the gut microbiome.

In our project we evaluate, in vitro and in representative mouse models of SSc-ILD, whether the lung microbiome plays a key role in the activation of innate immune mechanisms thereby contributing to the development of lung fibrosis in SSc. Thus, we challenge the current pathogenic concept that in SSc the activation of the innate immune system is the consequence of endogenous, tissue (injury) derived ligands.