Human Immunoregulation

Christina Zielinski 

Christina Zielinski studied medicine at the University of Heidelberg (Germany), at Harvard University (USA) and Duke University (USA). Her MD thesis research was performed at Yale University as a scholar of the German National Merit Foundation where she focused on the role of T cells in the pathogenesis of lupus erythematosus. Christina performed her postdoctoral training as a scholar of the German Research Foundation in the lab of Federica Sallusto in Switzerland where she deciphered the regulatory cues that drive distinct functionalities of human Th17 cells. She then started her own research group as a clinical scientist at the Department of Dermatology at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin. Christina also completed her clinical specialization in dermatology and Allergology at the University of Tübingen and the Charité in Berlin. In 2015, Christina was appointed professor at the German Center for Infection Research at the Technical University of Munich, where she continues to work on the regulation of human T cells and their translational impact in autoimmunity, infections, and cancer.

Link to website


Research Focus

The major focus of our laboratory is to investigate the regulation of human T cells in health and disease. We address fundamental questions about the mechanistic basis of human T cell memory formation, stabilization, and modulation. We also investigate T cell communication with the local tissue microenvironment in settings of health and disease. Our research has unraveled novel T cell specializations such as GM-CSF production (Noster et al. Sci Transl Med 2014) and anti-inflammatory Th17 cells (Zielinski et al. Nature 2012) with major implications for chronic infections and the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

We are in particular interested in the mechanisms by which a tissue resident immunological memory is generated and maintained in the human tissue. The reciprocal interactions of T cells with the tissue micro-milieu including the microbiota as well as metabolites are of particular interest. They shape the functionality of the tissue resident memory T cell compartment, “imprint” tissue-tropic migration and residence and represent interesting targets for novel immunomodulatory therapies in settings of autoimmunity, cancer, and chronic infections.

To address our goals, we use a translational approach, combining the analysis of healthy and pathological tissue samples. We are studying patients undergoing extensive in vivo perturbation of their immune system, i.e. by systemic therapies with immunomodulatory drugs (biologics) or by stem cell transplantation. We also take advantage of studying patients with genetic immunodeficiency syndromes.

Key Awards

  • 2020 | Paul Langerhans Prize
  • 2019 | Ingrid zu Solms-Preis für Medizin 2019
  • 2019 | Deutscher Neurodermitis Preis (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Dermatologie)
  • 2014 | Research Start-up Prize of the German Society for Rheumatology (highest ranked research award in Rheumatology for researchers below 40 years of age)
  • 2014 | Leo Pharma Research Silver Award for exceptional contribution to dermatological sciences (awarded by the European Society for Dermatological Research)
  • 2014 | Wolfgang-Schulze Foundation Prize (Deutsche Rheuma-Liga)
  • 2013 | Oscar-Gans-Junior-Research-Award (highest ranked prize for cutaneous research in Germany)
  • 2013 | Paul Janssen-Prize in Dermatology and Immunology (awarded by the German Society of Dermatology)
  • 2013 | Research Award of the Berlin Society of Dermatology
  • 2012 | Robert-Koch-Postdoctoral Prize for Immunology
  • 2012 | Nils-Ilja-Richter-Prize of the German Society for Autoimmune diseases
  • 2012 | Celgene Award for Innovation in Inflammation and Immunology Research into Dermatological Diseases (best European contribution to dermatological science by young researchers)
  • 2011 | Best oral workshop presentation prize, European Academy and Clinical Immunology Conference, Istanbul
  • 2011 | Selection for the “ESDR Academy for Future Leaders in Dermatology” in Cascais, Portugal
  • 2011 | Best poster prize, Swiss Society for Allergology and Immunology, Annual Meeting, Lugano
  • 2010 | Poster prize at the “Annual Meeting of the German Society for Immunology” in Leipzig, Germany
  • 2010 | Best oral workshop presentation prize, World Immune Regulation Meeting in Davos, Switzerland


  • Matthias J, Heink S, Picard FS, Zeiträg J, Kolz A, Chao YY, Soll D, de Almeida GP, Glasmacher E, Jacobsen ID, Riedel T, Peters A, Floess S, Huehn J, Baumjohann D, Huber M, Korn T, Zielinski CE: “Salt generates anti-inflammatory Th17 cells but amplifies their pathogenicity in pro-inflammatory cytokine microenvironments”. J Clin Invest. 2020; 10.1172/JCI137786
  • Matthias J, Zielinski CEShaping the diversity of Th2 cell responses in epithelial tissues and its potential for allergy treatmentEur J Immunol. 2019. July 5. Review. doi: 10.1002/eji.201848011
  • Palit S, Heuser C, de Almeida GP, Theis FJ, Zielinski CEMeeting the Challenges of High-Dimensional Single-Cell Data Analysis in ImmunologyFront Immunol. 2019, July 3. Review. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01515
  • Matthias J, Maul J, Noster R, Meinl H, Chao Y, Gerstenberg H, Jeschke F, Gasparoni G, Welle A, Walter J, Nordström K, Eberhardt K, Renisch D, Donakonda S, Knolle P, Soll D, Grabbe S, Garzorz-Stark N, Eyerich K, Biedermann T, Baumjohann D, Zielinski CESodium chloride is an ionic checkpoint for human TH2 cells and shapes the atopic skin microenvironmentSci Transl Med. 2019, Feb 20. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau0683
  • Zielinski CE. Human T cell immune surveillance: Phenotypic, functional and migratory heterogeneity for tailored immune responses. Immunol Lett. 2017 Oct;190:125-129. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2017.08.001. Epub 2017 Aug 4. Review. PubMed PMID: 28827022 [Pubmed]
  • Pascual-Reguant A, Bayat Sarmadi J, Baumann C, Noster R, Cirera-Salinas D, Curato C, Pelczar P, Huber S, Zielinski CE, Löhning M, Hauser AE, Esplugues E. TH17 cells express ST2 and are controlled by the alarmin IL-33 in the small intestineMucosal Immunol. 2017 Feb 15. doi: 10.1038/mi.2017.5 [Pubmed]
  • Tagawa T, Albanese M, Bouvet M, Moosmann A, Mautner J, Heissmeyer V, Zielinski C, Lutter D, Hoser J, Hastreiter M, et al. Epstein-Barr viral miRNAs inhibit antiviral CD4+ T cell responses targeting IL-12 and peptide processing. J Exp Med. 2016;213(10):2065-80 [Pubmed]
  • Barmeyer C, Schumann M, Meyer T, Zielinski C, Zuberbier T, Siegmund B, Schulzke JD, Daum S, and Ullrich R. Long-term response to gluten-free diet as evidence for non-celiac wheat sensitivity in one third of patients with diarrhea-dominant and mixed-type irritable bowel syndrome. Int J Colorectal Dis. 2016 [Pubmed]
  • Poltorak MP, and Zielinski CE. Hierarchical governance of cytokine production by 6-sulfo LacNAc (slan) dendritic cells for the control of psoriasis pathogenesis. Exp Dermatol.2016 [Pubmed]
  • Noster R, de Koning HD, Maier E, Prelog M, Lainka E, Zielinski CE. Dysregulation of proinflammatory versus anti-inflammatory human Th17 cell functionalities in the autoinflammatory Schnitzler syndrome. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Mar 31. pii: S0091-6749(16)00266-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2015.12.1338 [Pubmed]
  • Noster R, Riedel R, Mashreghi MF, Radbruch H, Harms L, Haftmann C, Chang HD, Radbruch A, Zielinski CE. IL-17 and GM-CSF expression are antagonistically regulated by human T helper cells. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Jun 18;6(241):241ra80 [Pubmed]
  • Zielinski CE. Autoimmunity beyond Th17: GM-CSF producing T cells. Cell Cycle. 2014;13(16):2489-90 [Pubmed]
  • Eyerich S, Zielinski CE. Defining Th-cell subsets in a classical and tissue-specific manner: Examples from the skin. Eur J Immunol. 2014 Dec;44(12):3475-83 [Pubmed]
  • Zielinski CE. Microbe driven T helper cell differentiation – lessons from C.albicans and S.aureus. Exp Dermatol. 2014 Nov;23(11):795-8 [Pubmed]
  • Braun JM, Zielinski CE. In vitro generation of microbe-specific human Th17 cells. Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1193:97-104 [Pubmed]
  • Zielinski CE, Mele F, Aschenbrenner D, Jarrossay D, Ronchi F, Gattorno M, Monticelli S, Lanzavecchia A, and Sallusto F. Pathogen-induced Th17 cells produce IFN-gamma or IL-10 and are regulated by IL-1beta Nature. 2012 Apr; 484:514-8 [Pubmed]
  • Zielinski CE, Zuberbier T, Maurer M. Immunoregulation in cutaneous allergy–prevention and control. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 Oct;12(5):498-503 [Pubmed]
  • Nicole Rusca, Lorenzo Deho, Sara Montagner, Christina E. Zielinski, Antonio Sica, Federica Sallusto, Silvia Monticelli. MiR-146a and NF-kappaB1 regulate mast cell survival and T lymphocyte differentiation. Mol. Cell. Biol. 2012, Nov;32(21):4432-44. [Pubmed]
  • Sallusto F, Zielinski CE, Lanzaveccia A. Human Th17 subsets. Eur J Immunol. 2012, Sep;42(9):2215-20 [Pubmed]
  • Zielinski CE, Corti D, Mele F, Pinto D, Lanzavecchia A, Sallusto F. Dissecting the human immunological memory against pathogens. Immunol Rev. 2011 Mar;240(1):40-51 [Pubmed]
  •  Zielinski CE, Jacob SN, Bouzahzah F, Ehrlich BE, Craft J. Naïve CD4+ T cells from lupus-prone Fas-intact MRL mice display TCR-mediated hyperproliferation due to intrinsic threshold defects in activation. J Immunol. 2005 Apr 15;174(8):5100-9 [Pubmed]