Research Groups

Cytokines and Disease

Group Leader

Research Interests and Description
Group Members

Frank Brombacher

Scientific Coordinator, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, ICGEB Cape Town

International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
Wernher and Beit Building (South), Room S1.27,
Anzio Road, Observatory 7925
Cape Town, South Africa

Tel.: +27-21-406-6147/6616
Fax: +27-21-406-6029


University of Freiburg, Diploma in Molecular Biology, 1986
Max-Planck Institute for Immunobiology, Freiburg, PhD, 1989

Career History

Since May 2008, Coordinator of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, ICGEB Cape Town, South Africa
2008-present, South African Research Chair (SARCHi) in Immunology of Infectious Diseases in Africa
2000-present, Director Medical Research Unit, Medical Research Centre (MRC), South Africa
2003-2008, Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM), UCT, South Africa
2000-2008, Head, Division of Immunology (acting), UCT, South Africa (except 2004-2005)
2000-2004, International Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow for Medicine in Africa
1998-2000, Group leader Infectious Disease Unit, Division of Immunology, UCT, South Africa
1994-1998, Group leader, Molecular Immunology, Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiology, Germany
1991-1993, Research Fellow, Preclinical Research Group of Sandoz Ltd, Switzerland
1989-1991, Postdoctoral Fellow, Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiology, Germany

Teaching Activity

Since 2001, Full Professor, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
2000-present, Visiting Professor University of Strathclyde, UK.
1998-2001, Associate Professor, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
1997-2000, Honorary Lecturer, University of Strathclyde, UK.

Scientific Activity

Research interests are general immunological mechanisms of host protection in human diseases, including Tuberculosis, Listeriosis, African Trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis, four of the major WHO declared threats to combat. Major general topics include cytokine network and regulation, lymphocytes differentiation and function, dendritic cell and macrophage activation, as well as the role of non-immunological effector cells in health/disease like smooth muscle cells, goblet cells, activated by IL-4 and IL13.

Selected publications

Pelly VS, Coomes SM, Kannan Y, Gialitakis M, Entwistle LJ, Perez-Lloret J, Czieso S, Okoye IS, Rückerl D, Allen JE, Brombacher F, Wilson MS. 2017. Interleukin 4 promotes the development of ex-Foxp3 Th2 cells during immunity to intestinal helminths. J Exp Med. 23:623-30

Fischer K, HH Ruiz, K Jhun, B Finan, DJ Oberlin, V van der Heide, A V Kalinovich, N Petrovic, Y Wolf, C Clemmensen, A C Shin, S Divanovic, F Brombacher, E Glasmacher, S Keipert, M Jastroch,
J Nagler, K-W Schramm, D Medrikova, G Collden, S C Woods, S Herzig, D Homan, S Jung, J Nedergaard, B Cannon, MH Tschöp, T D Müller & C Buettner 2017. Alternatively activated macrophages do not synthesize catecholamines or contribute to adipose tissue adaptive thermogenesis. Nature Medicine, 23:623-30

Reto Guler & Frank Brombacher. Host-directed drug therapy for tuberculosis. 2015. Nature Chemical Biology. 11:1-4

Roy S, Schmeier S, Arner E, Alam T, Parihar SP, Ozturk M, Tamgue O, Kawaji H, de Hoon MJ, Itoh M, Lassmann T, Carninci P, Hayashizaki Y, Forrest AR, Bajic VB, Guler R, Consortium F, Brombacher F *, Suzuki H. * 2015. Redefining the transcriptional regulatory dynamics of classically and alternatively activated macrophages by deepCAGE transcriptomics. Nucleic Acids Res. 18:6969-82 * corresponding author

Arner E, Daub CO, Vitting-Seerup K, Andersson R, Lilje B, Drabløs F, Lennartsson A, Rönnerblad M, Hrydziuszko O, Vitezic M, Freeman TC, Alhendi AM, Arner P, Axton R, Baillie JK, Beckhouse A, Bodega B, Briggs J, Brombacher F, Davis M, Detmar M, Ehrlund A, Endoh M, Eslami A, Fagiolini M, Fairbairn L, Faulkner GJ, Ferrai C, Fisher ME, Forrester L, Goldowitz D, Guler R, Ha T, Hara M, Herlyn M, Ikawa T, Kai C, Kawamoto H, Khachigian LM, Klinken SP, Kojima S, Koseki H, Klein S, Mejhert N, Miyaguchi K, Mizuno Y, Morimoto M, Morris KJ, Mummery C, Nakachi Y, Ogishima S, Okada-Hatakeyama M, Okazaki Y, Orlando V, Ovchinnikov D, Passier R, Patrikakis M, Pombo A, Qin XY, Roy S, Sato H, Savvi S, Saxena A, Schwegmann A, Sugiyama D, Swoboda R, Tanaka H, Tomoiu A, Winteringham LN, Wolvetang E, Yanagi-Mizuochi C, Yoneda M, Zabierowski S, Zhang P, Abugessaisa I, Bertin N, Diehl AD, Fukuda S, Furuno M, Harshbarger J, Hasegawa A, Hori F, Ishikawa-Kato S, Ishizu Y, Itoh M, Kawashima T, Kojima M, Kondo N, Lizio M, Meehan TF, Mungall CJ, Murata M, Nishiyori-Sueki H, Sahin S, Nagao-Sato S, Severin J, de Hoon MJ, Kawai J, Kasukawa T, Lassmann T, Suzuki H, Kawaji H, Summers KM, Wells C; FANTOM Consortium, Hume DA, Forrest AR, Sandelin A, Carninci P, Hayashizaki Y. 2015.  Transcribed enhancers lead waves of coordinated transcription in transitioning mammalian cells. Science. 347:1010-4.

FANTOM Consortium and the RIKEN PMI and CLST (DGT), Forrest AR, Kawaji H, Rehli M, Baillie JK, de Hoon MJ, Haberle V, Lassmann T, Kulakovskiy IV, Lizio M, Itoh M, Andersson R, Mungall CJ, Meehan TF, Schmeier S, Bertin N, Jørgensen M, Dimont E, Arner E, Schmidl C, Schaefer U, Medvedeva YA, Plessy C, Vitezic M, Severin J, Semple C, Ishizu Y, Young RS, Francescatto M, Alam I, Albanese D, Altschuler GM, Arakawa T, Archer JA, Arner P, Babina M, Rennie S, Balwierz PJ, Beckhouse AG, Pradhan-Bhatt S, Blake JA, Blumenthal A, Bodega B, Bonetti A, Briggs J, Brombacher F, et al. 2014. A promoter-level mammalian expression atlas. Nature. 507:462-70.

Hurdayal, R., N.E. Nieuwenhuizen, M. Revaz-Breton, L. Smith1, J.C. Hoving, S.P. Parihar, B.Reizis and F.Brombacher. 2013. Deletion of IL-4 receptor alpha on dendritic cells renders BALB/c mice hypersusceptible to Leishmania major infection. PLOSpathogen 9:e1003699.

Horsnell, WGC, M Darby, JC Hoving, N Nieuwenhuizen, S Bobat, H Ndlovu, M Kimberg, F Brombacher. 2013. Rapid 4R<alpha> associated antigen processing by B cells promotes recall immunity in Nippostrongylus brasiliensis infection. 2013. PLOSpathogen 9:e1003662.

Nieuwenhuizen NE, Kirstein F, Jayakumar J, Emedi B, Hurdayal R, Horsnell W, Brombacher F 2012. Allergic airway disease is unaffected by the absence of IL-4Ra-dependent alternatively activated macrophages. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 130:743-50.

Hoving, JC, F. Kirstein, N. Nieuwenhuizen, E. Hobeika, M. Reth and F. Brombacher 2012. Immunoglobulin E-producing B lymphocytes mediate colitis in BALB/c mice. Gastroenterology, 142:96-108.

Nguyen, K.D., Y. Qiu, X. Cui, Y.P. S. Goh, J. Mwangi, T. David, L. Mukundan, F. Brombacher, R.M. Locksley, A. Chawla. 2011. Alternatively activated macrophages produce catecholamines to sustain adaptive thermogenesis. Nature 480:104-8.

Kirstein F, Horsnell WG, Kuperman DA, Huang X, Erle DJ, Lopata AL, Brombacher F. (2010). Expression of IL-4 receptor alpha on smooth muscle cells is not necessary for development of experimental allergic asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 126:347-54.

FANTOM Consortium, Suzuki H, Forrest AR, van Nimwegen E, Daub CO, Balwierz PJ, Irvine KM, Lassmann T, Ravasi T, Hasegawa Y, de Hoon MJ, Katayama S, Schroder K, Carninci P, Tomaru Y, Kanamori-Katayama M, Kubosaki A, Akalin A, Ando Y, Arner E, Asada M, Asahara H, Bailey T, Bajic VB, Bauer D, Beckhouse AG, Bertin N, Björkegren J, Brombacher F, et al. (2009). The transcriptional network that controls growth arrest and differentiation in a human myeloid leukemia cell line. Nature Genetics 41:553-62.

Horsnell, W.G., F. Brombacher. (2008) Key roles for specific and nonspecific antibody in intestinal nematode expulsion. Cell Host Microbe 16:303-5.

Magez, S., A. Schwegmann, R. Atkinson, F. Claes, M. Drennan, P. De Baetselier, and F. Brombacher. (2008). The role of B-cells and IgM antibodies in parasitemia, anemia, and VSG switching in Trypanosoma brucei-infected mice. PLoSpathogen, 4:e1000122.

Schwegmann A, Guler R, Cutler AJ, Arendse B, Horsnell WG, Flemming A, Kottmann AH, Ryan G, Hide W, Leitges M, Seoighe C, Brombacher F. (2007). Protein kinase C {delta} is essential for optimal macrophage-mediated phagosomal containment of Listeria monocytogenes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 104:16251-6.

Odegaard, J.I., R.E. Ricardo-Gonzalez, M.H. Goforth, C.R. Morel, V. Subramanian, L. Mukundan, A. Red Eagle, D. Vats, F. Brombacher A.W. Ferrante, A. Chawla. (2007). Macrophage-specific PPARg controls alternative activation and improves insulin resistance. Nature 447:1116-20.

Radwanska M, Cutler AJ, Hoving JC, Magez S, Holscher C, Bohms A, Arendse B, Kirsch R, Hunig T, Alexander J, Kaye P, Brombacher F. (2007). Deletion of IL-4Ralpha on CD4 T cell renders BALB/c mice resistant to Leishmania major phenotype. PLoSpathogen, 3:e68.

Horsnell, W. G. C., A. J. Cutler, C. Hoving, H. Mearns, E. Myburg, B. Arendse, F. D. Finkelman, G. K. Owens, D. Erle, and F. Brombacher (2007). Delayed goblet cell hyperplasia and worm expulsion in smooth muscle cell specific IL-4Ra deficient mice. PLoS pathogen, 162:7302-7308.

Nieuwenhuizen, N., A. L. Lopata, M. F. Jeebhay, D. R. Herbert, T. G.Robins, F. Brombacher (2006). The nematode Anisakis, hidden in fish, can cause occupational allergy. J Allergy Clin Immun, 117:1098.

Herbert, D. R., C. Hölscher, M. Mohrs, B. Arendse, A. Schwegmann, M. Radwanska, M. Leeto, R. Kirsch, P. Hall, H. Mossmann, B. Claussen, I. Förster & F. Brombacher. 2004. Alternative macrophages activation is essential for survival during schistosomiasis and downmodulates T Helper 1 responses and immunopathology. Immunity. 20:623-35.

Stager, S., J. Alexander, M. Botto,  A. C. Kirby, N. Van Rooijen, D. F. Smith, F. Brombacher and P. M. Kaye. 2003. Natural antibodies and complement are endogenous adjuvants for vaccine-induced CD8+ T cell responses. Nature Medicine, 9:1287-92.

Ochsenbein, A. F., T. Fehr, C. Lutz, M. Suter, F. Brombacher, H. Hengartner, R. M. Zinkernagel. 1999. Control of early viral and bacterial distribution and disease by natural antibodies. Science. 286:2156-59.

Grünig, G., M. Warnock, A. E. Wakil, R. Venkayya, F. Brombacher, D. M. Rennick, D. Sheppard, M. Mohrs, D. D. Donaldson, R. M. Locksley, D. B. Corry. 1998. Interleukin 13 and interleukin 4 mediate the asthmatic phenotype through interleukin 4 receptor a. Science, 282:2261-63.

Lutz, C., B. Ledermann, M. Kosco-Vilbois, A. F. Ochsenbein, R. M. Zinkernagel, G. Köhler, F. Brombacher. 1998. IgD can largely substitute for loss of IgM function in B cells. Nature 393:797-80.

Kopf, M., F. Brombacher, P. Hodkin, E. Milbourne, W. J. Dai, C. Beam, I. G. Young, G. Köhler and K. Matthaei. 1996. Developmental defect in CD5+ B-1 cells and lack of eosinophilia in IL-5 deficient mice.  Immunity 4:15.

Brombacher, F., G. Köhler and H. Eibel. 1991. B cell tolerance in mice transgenic for anti-CD8 immunoglobulin m chain. J. Exp. Med. 174:1335.

Brombacher, F., M. C. Lamers, G. Kohler and H. Eibel. 1989. Elimination of CD8(+) thymocytes in transgenic mice expressing an anti-Lyt2.2 immunoglobulin heavy chain gene. EMBO J.8:3719.

ICGEB Cape Town

Wernher and Beit Building (South)
UCT Campus
Anzio Road
Observatory 7925
Cape Town
Tel: +27-21-4066335
Fax: +27-21-4066060




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