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Translational Immunology (TRIGR)


During the present reporting period the strategy and organization of GUIDE has been adapted resulting in multiple smaller but more flexible research programs that are strongly focused on a specific research topic. One of the new programs that was established in 2012 is the research program Translational Immunology Groningen (TRIGR). The TRIGR program is a collaborative initiative of several clinical and pre-clinical departments within the UMCG that have established research lines and collaborations on chronic immune-mediated diseases. Together, the participating research groups provide a multidisciplinary platform for fundamental, translational and clinical research to investigate in particular aging of the healthy immune system and to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying immune-mediated diseases in the aging population. 

Scientific and Societal output   Dissertations  

See dissertations of TRIGR on horafinita.nl

Principal Investigators   Programme Leaders   Description of the Programme  

TRIGR brings together clinical translational research on immune-mediated diseases and combines bedside with bench and vice versa. TRIGR now focuses on one overarching theme that links aging, immunity, cancer and chronic disease development.   Aging is associated with clear changes in immune cell distribution and function, collectively termed immunosenescence. This progressive imbalance in the immune system is associated with increased susceptibility to infections and with reduced responses to vaccination and cancer development. Also, a chronic smoldering inflammatory state known as inflamm-aging is thought to underlie an increased incidence of immune-mediated diseases in the aging population. The TRIGR program is based on the premise that age is an intrinsic risk factor for the development of many chronic, immune-mediated systemic diseases and cancer. Many chronic diseases are triggered by an aberrant immune response to environmental challenges. Thus, understanding how the immune system dynamically develops along the life course of an individual is of major importance in terms of health and disease. Within the multidisciplinary environment formedby the TRIGR research teams, forces have been joined to focus on: 

1) Evaluation of normal immune-aging and the identification of accelerating environmental and other factors. More specifically:

  • What are the effects of aging per seon the healthy immune system?  
  • Can we identify common age-related molecular immune signatures?
  • What is the effect of accelerating environmental factors such as chronic virus infection (e.g. CMV, VZV, HIV) and cancer on the immune signatures?

2) Understanding the development of chronic immune-mediated diseases. More specifically:

  • Is it possible to identify individuals at risk for chronic disease development as a consequence of changes in the immune system?  
  • Which immune signatures (biomarkers) predict the development of immune-mediated diseases?

3) Identification of common molecular immune signatures in (late-onset) chronic inflammatory diseases.  More specifically:

  • Which immune signatures are shared in chronic inflammatory conditions?  
  • Can these common immune signatures be targeted for effective personalized treatment?
  • Can we identify immune signatures associated with active disease and disease in remission (after effective treatment)?  
  • Can we define immune signatures thatprecede and/or predict a relapse?



TRIGR’s ambition is to reach national and international leadership in research and research training in translational immunology in the field of aging and chronic inflammatory conditions. The mission of TRIGR is to unravel the mechanisms underlying immune-mediated chronic diseases by translation of basic immunological concepts into clinical practice (and vice versa) in order to improve prevention and/or treatment of immune-related chronic diseases during the life course. 
The research program aims to unite immunological concepts, inspired by observations at the bedside (clinical observations), and expertise within the UMCG and to seek an integrated approach towards addressing the knowledge gaps on the role of age-associated immune alterations in the development of chronic immune-mediated diseases. The knowledge gained will be the basis for a rational design of improved personalized treatments and prevention strategies. 

Relevance to Healthy Ageing  

An initiative to gain knowledge on fudamental aspects of immune-aging in relation to chronic disease development with an emphasis on translation into clinical practice. TRIGR provides a platform for research dedicated to improve our understanding of age-associated alterations of immune function along the life line of a given individual and thus gain fundamental insight into (patho)physiological aspects of immune-aging in relation to chronic disease development. As such, it is anticipated that TRIGR will substantially contribute to the concept of “healthy aging”. It is our objective to integrate our research with ERIBA and LifeLines.