Tissue and Systemic Immunity


Project leader

Alessandra Petrelli


The research of Tissue and Systemic Immunity focuses on unveiling the immunological mechanisms of insulin resistance in metabolically active tissues, both in obesity-associated type 2 diabetes (T2D) and in T1D.

To untangle diabetes heterogeneity and identify a distinct endotype featured by both autoimmunity and insulin resistance, the researchers of Tissue and Systemic Immunity group aim to determine:

  • the relative weight of insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes,
  • if and how immune-mediated responses in metabolic tissues modulate insulin resistance, 
  • whether autoimmune mechanisms, and in particular autoreactive T lymphocytes, underlie insulin resistance.

Research activity

The lab's research line aims to elucidate how defective communication between immune cells and tissue parenchymal cells contributes to the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases in humans. By unraveling diabetes endotypes, this research lays the ground for the successful design and interpretation of clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Tissue and Systemic Immunity research group benefits of a wide network of national and international collaborators, i.e. at the University of Siena (Italy), University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli” (Italy), UMC Utrecht (Netherlands), University of Canberra (Australia), Benaroya Research Institute (Seattle, WA, USA), University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (Miami, FL, USA), University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA, USA). The research of Petrelli's lab is supported by the European Commission (Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Action), AXA Research Fund, JDRF, Ministero della Salute (Giovani Ricercatori – Ricerca Finalizzata).