Dendritic cell cutaneous egression in Mycobacterium ulcerans infection

Research Opportunity
Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Department / Centre
Clinical Pathology
Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC)
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Associate Professor John Hayman Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Yi Qiu Sun

Summary In exploring the mechanisms of how M. ulcerans evades local immune responses in the skin, we can gain further insight into how this common organism causes destructive "flesh-eating" ulcers in children and elder populations worldwide.

Project Details

Buruli ulcer (a.k.a. Bairnsdale ulcer) is a chronic debilitating disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, and is the third most prevalent mycobacterial disease in humans after tuberculosis and leprosy. It is prevalent in Africa, South America, the Western Pacific and interestingly has a growing prevalence in Australia. Although 70% of Buruli ulcers worldwide occur in children under 15 years of age, it occurs in an elder population in Australia.

Mycobacterium ulcerans infection is associated with production of a toxin, named mycolactone. This agent suppresses the normal immune responses including the normal function of dendritic cells. Dendritic cells normally function as antigen presenting cells, travelling to regional lymph nodes and inducing clonal proliferation. In M. ulcerans infection this does not occur: instead large numbers of dendritic cells are seen in the epidermis superficial to the zone of infection and appear to be shed along with keratinised squamous epithelial cells. By altering local immune responses required for normal skin healing, M. ulcerans causes destructive chronic skin ulcers, wounds in subcutaneous tissue and sometimes to bone, requiring extensive surgical excision and complex wound healing regimens that pose a heavy health burden on the patient, the community and the health care system.

Tissue sections from some 200+ Mycobacterium ulcerans surgical specimens are available for review. This pathophysiological process does not appear to have been described and review of the presently available material should result in a publication. The project is well suited to a self-motivated honours student with experience in histopathology or related sciences.

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health, Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine, Ageing, Musculoskeletal

Research Opportunities

Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Clinical Pathology

Research Node

Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC)

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.