Cécile Bénézeh

Senior Lecturer

  • Centre for Cardiovascular Science

Contact details



Centre for Cardiovascular Science
The Queen's Medical Research Institute,
Edinburgh BioQuarter,
47 Little France Crescent

Post code
EH16 4TJ

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Alex Daley (Wellcome Trust ECAT funded PhD): Link between the microbiota, adipose tissue B cells and insulin resistance during obesity.

Rachel Bell, (BHF funded PhD): Targeting myeloid cells in renal fibrosis, main supervisor, Dr Laura Denby.

Josh Richards (BBSRC EASTBIO funded PhD): Immuno-modulation using Helminth in obesity, main supervisor Dr Henry McSorley, University of Dundee.

Caroline Pumpe (MRC Precision Medicine funded PhD): main supervisor, Dr Sonja Vermeren.

Past PhD students supervised

Peter Smith (BHF Research Excellence Award funded PhD): Characterisation of human B1 cells in the context of cardiovascular diseases.

Marlene Magalhaes (Chancellor's fellowship funded PhD): Role of Tim4+ macrophages in post-prandial cholesterol transport.

Research summary

Our lab is interested in the interplay between the immune system and the cardiovascular system and thrive to discover key immune pathways involved in maintaining metabolic and cardiovascular health. We aim to understand how dysregulation of immune pathways associated with obesity, age or disease leads to increased risk of infection and cardiovascular diseases. We ultimately want to identify new immune therapeutic targets to boost immune defence and treat cardiovascular diseases.

Obesity, loss of B1 cells and susceptibility to infection: Obesity rates are increasing all over the world. Obesity is affecting nearly 30% of adults in the UK. The effect of obesity on increasing risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer is well recognised. Obesity also affects the immune system leading to increase susceptibility to infections. This has become dramatically apparent with COVID-19; obesity is one of the main risk factors of hospitalisation and death with COVID-19. Obesity also increases the risk of pneumonia and post-operative infections, raising important clinical challenges in hospitals. One of our main interests is to understand how obesity affects B1 cells, a type of B cells producing antibodies, called natural antibodies, providing an important frontline protection against infection. We aim to identify mechanisms leading to loss of B1 cells in human during obesity and identify targets boosting their function to restore resistance to infection in obese patients (MRC funded project).  

Maintaining tissue homeostasis:

  • Natural antibodies play an additional critical homeostatic function by removing dead cells, cellular debris, and oxidised lipoprotein particles. There are important to limit insulin resistance, atherosclerosis and thrombosis. We aim to understand the mechanism driving the production of natural antibodies in human, how these are impacted by age and disease status and to identify pathways restoring natural antibody levels and homeostatic function to treat insulin resistance in obesity, atherosclerosis and thrombosis.
  • Resident macrophages in adipose tissue are involved in a myriad of regulatory function. We aim to understand how they synchronise adipocyte and vascular function with feeding and how they control lipid distribution in the body.

Repairing the heart post-myocardial infarction: After a heart attack, the body mounts a response to clear dying tissue and repair the damage to the heart. The heart is enveloped by a protective sac called the pericardium, which contains a high number of B1 cells. These B1 cells protects the heart after a heart attack increasing its repair and preserving heart function. We aim to understand the mechanism underlying the protective function of pericardial B1 cells in human post-myocardial infarction and identify new pathways to boost their protective function to treat heart attack (MRC funded project).

Project activity

 The lab is currently working on four projects:

  • Impact of obesity on adipose tissue B1 cell function in infection
  • Role of pericardial B1 cells in repair of the heart post-myocardial infarction
  • Effect of changes in the microbiota on adipose tissue B cells, insulin resistance and obesity
  • Role of macrophages in regulating lipid distribution.

Current project grants

MRC Research Grant (PI): Does impaired adipose tissue B cell function lead to loss of natural antibody secretion and increase susceptibility to infection in obesity? August 2022 for 3 years, Dweck, Cowan, Mole, Bénézech.

MRC Research Grant (PI): Targeting B cells of the pericardium to improve outcome post-myocardial infarction, September 2023 for 3 years, Dweck, Cowan, Bénézech.

Past project grants

BHF Centre for Vascular Regeneration Award (PI): Paracardial B cells regulate inflammation and repair post-myocardial infarction in humans (2021).
ISSF3 (PI): Is the loss of natural antibodies in obesity and ageing driving increase susceptibility to infections in general and COVID-19 in particular? (2022).
MRC New Investigator Research Grant (PI): Role of iNKT cells and the lymphoid structures within visceral adipose tissue in the control of inflammation and obesity (2015-2019).
ISSF2 (PI): Proof of concept: Critical role of the pericardium post-MI (2016).
Head of College award (PI) (2016).
Tenovus Scotland (PI), The role of pericardial B cell clusters in inflammation and healing post heart attack, (2015).
Sylvia Waddilove foundation (PI), Role of Pericardial B cells during Influenza Infection, (2016-2016).
Chancellor’s Fellowship, University of Edinburgh (2013- 2018).

View all 34 publications on Research Explorer

Katherine Miles (Katherine.Miles@ed.ac.uk): lab manager

Dr David Duneau (dduneau@ed.ac.uk): Postdoc

Alex Daley (adaley@exseed.ed.ac.uk):  PhD student

Dr Peter Smith, now postdoc in Prof. Manu Shankar-Hari's lab, CIR-University of Edinburgh

Dr Lucy Jackson-Jones, now Lecturer at Lancaster University

Dr Marlène Magalhaes, now postdoc in Dr Rebecca Gentek's lab, CIR-University of Edinburgh

Dr Katie Mylonas, now CSO/Kidney Research UK Fellow in CIR-University of Edinburgh

Eiry Jones, MSc student (2023)

Maria Paula Hortes, MSc student (2022)

Aimee Colbeck, Honours student (2023)

Rachel Jones, Honours student (2023)

Jiaqi Shen, MScR student (2022)

Yihui Liu, MScR student (2022)

Angus Jacob, MSc student (2022)

Trecia Palmer, MSc student (2022)

Evie Flynn, Honours student (2022)

Hamsi Evans, Honours student (2022)

Bronwyn Berkeley, MSc student (2021)

Rachel Bell, MSc student (2020)

Jay Allan, Honours student (2019)

Iris Prunonosa-Cervera, MSc student (2018)

Emilie Chantoin, Honours student (2018)

Matthew Sinton, MSc student (2017)

Caleb Nwongbouwoh Muefong, MScR student (2017)

Ella Rembacken, Honours student (2017)

Lucy Evans, Honours student (2017)

Caitlin McManus, Honours student (2017)

Marina Garcia, Erasmus student (2016)

Matilda Toivakka, MSc student (2015)