News and Reports


Research Groups

(Cezmi Akdis)

B Cell Immunology
(Willem van de Veen)

Immune Metabolism
(Milena Sokolowska)

Immune Regulation
(Mübeccel Akdis)

Molecular Allergology
(Katja Bärenfaller)

Vaccine Development
(Claudio Rhyner)


International Networks




Head: Willem van de Veen
Degree: Ph.D.

Phone: +41 (0) 81 410 08 46
E-mail: willem.vandeveen(a)siaf.uzh.ch

Group members:
  1. Manal Bel imam
  2. Laura Bürgi
  3. Margot Starrenburg

B Cell Immunology




B Cell Immunology

B cells play an important role in the immune system. Their classical function in immune responses is the production of antibodies. Moreover, B cells regulate immune responses through antigen presentation and cytokine production. B-cells, together with T-cells, represent the effector cells of the adaptive immune system, which is characterized by a high degree of specialization. Through genetic rearrangements of the genes encoding their immune receptors, a very large number of unique T- and B-cells can develop, each of which can specifically recognize different molecular structures.

Allergies result from a complex interplay between many different cell types including tissue cells, antigen-presenting cells, allergen-specific T cells and allergen-specific B cells. In allergic patients, allergen-specific B cells become activated and differentiate to plasma cells that secrete allergen-specific IgE antibodies, which play a central role in allergic reactions.

Our research is focused on the characterization of B cell responses in allergic and healthy individuals, with the aim to improve our understanding of the mechanisms that cause the development of allergies. This may pave the way for development of novel therapies for treatment of allergic diseases. We perform in-depth analyses of different types of B-cells to assess their capacity to regulate the immune system through the production of cytokines and the presentation of antigens to T cells. Moreover, we developed tools to purify allergen-specific B cells from peripheral blood. We recently extended it to many allergens/antigens and demonstrated that these B cells retain antigen-specificity upon immortalization, cloning and expansion. This allows detailed analysis of their functional features.