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CIHR Skin Research Training Centre

Immunodermatology Lab

The goal of this lab is to understand the way the body's immune system works within the skin. The skin is not only a passive envelope around the body - it is so much more. It is one of the prime immune organs of the body. It is constantly assaulted by all sorts of foreign materials - bugs, chemicals, micro-organisms - and in order for those external elements in the environment to not enter the skin and cause harm the body needs an intact immune system that extends right out to the surface of the skin. The skin acts as the first sentry.
The Immunodermatology Laboratory is dedicated to understanding in great detail how the immune system in the most exterior part of the body works to protect us on a day to day basis.
The laboratory is specifically involved in:
  • understanding the exact mechanisms for how the skin immune system operates in normal states and in diseased states - Dr. Dutz is studying the possibility of using the body's immune system and ways of activating T cells - the "foot soldiers" of the immune system - to fight cancerous tumours such as malignant melanoma. He has focused on the skin, as it is rich in the dendritic Langerhans, cells which are necessary for activating the cytotoxic T cells which then work to destroy viruses, bacteria and tumours.
  • vaccine development through the skin using topical patches to develop immunity to bacteria and viruses and tumors - Dr. Jan Dutz has developed a skin-applied, epicutaneous-vaccine technique that offers the promise of needle-free vaccines.
  • understanding how external factors affect the skin immune system, i.e. how light interacts with the skin, affects the immune system, and may induce or alter disease. Methods of using the skin to alter systemic disease are under exploration using autoimmune diabetes as an example.
  • understanding the process by which cytotoxic T cells are first activated against the pancreas in juvenile onset diabetes mellitus, as this is an event that eventually leads ot the onset of the disease
Dr. Dutz is also investigating the use of adjuvants - chemicals that activate the immune system - applied directly to the skin at the site of a tumor, and whether it is possible to kick-start an immune response to the tumour. It may be possible to turn off specific autoimmune responses for a disease by applying an antigen to the skin without an adjuvant.



Dr. Jan Dutz


Child and Family Research Institute at BC Children's Hospital


Dr. Mehran Ghoreishi
Dr. YiQun Zhang


Dr. Jacqueline Lai


Wing-ki (Vicki) Cheng


Flow cytometry, Animal models, Cellular immune assays


  1. Hu Y, Dutz JP, Maccalman CD, Yong P, Tan R, von Dadelszen P. Decidual NK Cells Alter In Vitro First Trimester Extravillous Cytotrophoblast Migration: A Role for IFN-{gamma}. J Immunol. 2006 Dec 15;177(12):8522-30. PMID: 17142750 [PubMed - in process]
  2. Dutz JP. The skin as a site of initiation of systemic autoimmune disease: new opportunities for treatment. J Invest Dermatol. 2006 Jun;126(6):1209-12. PMID: 16702968 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  3. Dunne J, Dutz J, Shojania K, Ng B, van Eeden S. Treatment of severe Raynaud's phenomenon with bosentan in a patient with systemic sclerosis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Jul;45(7):911-2. Epub 2006 Mar 10. PMID: 16531439 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  4. Ghoreishi M, Dutz JP. Tolerance induction by transcutaneous immunization through ultraviolet-irradiated skin is transferable through CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells and is dependent on host-derived IL-10. J Immunol. 2006 Feb 15;176(4):2635-44. PMID: 16456026 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  5. O'Brien BA, Geng X, Orteu CH, Huang Y, Ghoreishi M, Zhang Y, Bush JA, Li G, Finegood DT, Dutz JP. A deficiency in the in vivo clearance of apoptotic cells is a feature of the NOD mouse. J Autoimmun. 2006 Mar;26(2):104-15. Epub 2006 Jan 20. PMID: 16431079 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  6. Oble DA, Collett E, Hsieh M, Ambjorn M, Law J, Dutz J, Teh HS. A novel T cell receptor transgenic animal model of seborrheic dermatitis-like skin disease. J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Jan;124(1):151-9.
  7. Schutze-Redelmeier MP, Kong S, Bally MB, Dutz JP.
    Antennapedia transduction sequence promotes anti tumour immunity to epicutaneously administered CTL epitopes. Vaccine. 2004 May 7;22(15-16):1985-91.
  8. Klimuk SK, Najar HM, Semple SC, Aslanian S, Dutz JP.
    Epicutaneous application of CpG oligodeoxynucleotides with peptide or protein antigen promotes the generation of CTL.
    J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Apr;122(4):1042-9.
  9. Kahlon R, Dutz JP. Skin immune responses to peptide and protein antigen are TLR4 independent. Cell Immunol. 2003 Dec;226(2):116-23.
  10. Kahlon R, Hu Y, Orteu CH, Kifayet A, Trudeau JD, Tan R, Dutz JP. Optimization of epicutaneous immunization for the induction of CTL. Vaccine. 2003 Jun 20;21(21-22):2890-9.
  11. Zhang Y, O'Brien B, Trudeau J, Tan R, Santamaria P, Dutz JP. In situ beta cell death promotes priming of diabetogenic CD8 T lymphocytes. J Immunol. 2002 Feb 1;168(3):1466-72. 

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