MRC Centre for Inflammation Research
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Dr Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is investigating the functional diversity of myeloid cells in tissue homeostasis and immune regulation, with a major focus on the mechanisms that maintain tissue resident macrophages under steady state and inflammatory conditions.

Dr Steve Jenkins

Chancellor's Fellow

  • MRC Centre for Inflammation Research
  • Research Theme: Immune Modulation and Regulation of Inflammation

Contact details

Group Members

  • Ruairi Lynch - Wellcome Trust Edinburgh Clinical Academic Training PhD student (email)
  • Pieter Louwe - PhD student
  • Amy Robinson - ECAT CRUK Clinical Fellow

Background

Aims

Myeloid cells including macrophages and dendritic cells exhibit a vast diversity. Many tissues contain at least two populations of macrophages in addition to distinct dendritic cell populations, yet we still don't fully understand why such diversity exists. The focus of my lab is to identify the functional differences between the numerous co-existing tissue macrophage populations, and to identify the mechanisms through which these different populations are maintained.

In particular, it has recently been discovered that certain populations of resident macrophages, such as Kupffer cells and alveolar macrophages, are not replenished by blood monocytes but self-renew in order to maintain population size. Whether these populations are derived from tissue stem cells, or if they have limited regenerative capacity, remains to be determined. Furthermore, it is unclear if reaching any such limit may have consequence for the outcome of inflammatory disease.  

By addressing these questions, we aim to identify novel pathways to control inflammation and to manipulate macrophage functions and numbers during disease. 

Research Overview

Image of a cytospin showing peritoneal macrophages undergoing mitosis following injection of IL-4
Image of a cytospin showing peritoneal macrophages undergoing mitosis following injection of IL-4

Macrophages (Mφ) and dendritic cells (DC) have a plethora of functions central to the maintenance of healthy tissue. Reflecting this, Mφ and DC encompass highly heterogeneous populations of cells. The diversity of tissue DC has been revealed through identification of population-specific precursor cells, transcription factors, and growth factors, while the recruitment and differentiation of blood monocytes has long been considered to maintain tissue Mφ density. Emerging evidence however suggests that the predominant population of 'resident' Mφ in many tissues may not rely upon recruitment of monocytes or other hematopoietic-derived precursors, but rather exist by longevity, self-renewal or generation from an as yet unidentified tissue stem cell. The mechanisms that maintain the autonomy of tissue resident macrophages thus remain to be determined.

Cells that appear to be derived from recruited monocytes are also present in tissues alongside 'resident' Mφ and DC, although whether these recruited cells represent a functionally distinct population or an intermediate stage to these endpoints is unclear. Furthermore, either population of Mφ ('resident' vs 'recruited') may predominate during disease depending upon the type or stage of inflammatory insult. We have shown that during infection with nematode worms, the resident peritoneal and pleural macrophages undergo greatly elevated proliferation under the action of the cytokine IL-4 in order to generate macrophages locally without need for monocyte recruitment. 

Using lineage-tracing and in vivo manipulation methods, the comparative regulation, function and plasticity of resident and recruited populations are being interrogated in both homeostasis and a range of inflammatory disease models established at College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Project 1: The parameters that regulate autonomy of tissue resident Mφ 

Project 2: The function and regulation of monocyte-derived tissue resident Mφ

Biographical Profile

  • 1995-1998 Studied BSc Biology at the University of Manchester, UK
  • 1999-2003 PhD in Immunoparasitology under the supervision of Dr Adrian Mountford, University of York, UK
  • 2003-2007 Post-Doc with Dr Andrew MacDonald, Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, University of Edinburgh, UK, studying the induction of Th2 responses to schistosomes
  • 2007-2012 Post-Doc with Prof Judith Allen, Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, University of Edinburgh, UK, studying the biology of macrophages during nematode infections
  • 2013 Chancellors Fellowship, Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh, UK

Honours and Awards

  • 2014-2017: MRC New Investigators Research Grant
  • 2013-2018: University of Edinburgh Chancellors Fellowship
  • 2010: Research Prize, European Macrophage and Dendritic Cells Society Annual Conference
  • 2002, 2009: British Society for Immunology Travel Award
  • 2001: Research Prize, British Society for Parasitology Annual Conference
  • 2001: Global Strategy Prize at the national final of the BBSRC/MRC's Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme

Alumni

  • Manuel Grahammer, MSc Student 2014
  • Nick Steers, MSc Student 2013
  • Hira Ale, MSc Student 2013

Collaborators

  • Professor Allan Mowat, University of Glasgow, UK.
  • Professor Werner Muller, University of Manchester, UK.
  • Professor David A Hume, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh UK.

Sources of Funding

Medical Research Council

More information on funding at Steve Jenkins' Research Explorer profile.