szepfalusiHead, Ped. Pulmonology, Allergy, Cystic Fibrosis and Lung Transplantation Division of Ped. Pulmonology, Allergy and Endocrinology
Department of Pediatrics
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna

MD: University of Vienna, Faculty of Medicine 
Postdoctoral Training: Institute of Pathophysiology
Clinical Training: Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna

Research Interests:
• Early development of allergies and interventional approaches
• Allergy development under immunosuppression
• Biomarkers of tolerance induction in food allergy

Early scientific activities focused on IgE-mediated allergies and in particular on the mode of materno-fetal interaction with emphasis on allergic sensitization (1993-1996). On an ex-vivo placenta model experimental data support the idea of an early materno-fetal allergen-cross talk (1998-2005). Early fetal allergen-exposure could be shown to mature the fetal allergen-specific T cell responses towards a Th1-driven response, suggesting a potential way to tolerize the fetal immune system by early allergen exposure (2006-2012). Based on these experimental observations clinical studies have been started to elucidate the early and preventive effect of allergen-specific immunotherapy in young children (2005-ongoing). Actually, the first placebo-controlled, sensitization-preventive sublingual immunotherapy trial is ending (2008-2012). A particular research focus emerged more recently from observations on lung transplanted children and adolescents. Despite strong T cell-focused immunosuppression, IgE-mediated sensitizations and allergies were observed very often (20%). In cross-sectional, prospective and immunological studies the particular Th2-driving capacity of tacrolimus could be shown (2006-2014). Food allergy diagnosis is a big challenge, often necessitating a food-challenge. New biomarkers are needed which might predict clinical relevance of certain food IgE sensitizations. The role of the high-affinity FcERI is studied in vitro and in various types of IgE- and non-IgE-mediated allergies (2007-2015).  

Proposed PhD research projects:
1) Allergen-specific immunotherapy in childhood: individual sensitization profile and immune response profile upon immunotherapy     
2) Soluble FceRI alpha as monitoring parameter in clinical manifestation of allergies

Selected publications:

  1. Szépfalusi Zs, Pichler J, Elsässer S , van Duren K, Ebner Ch , Bernaschek G , Urbanek R. 2000. Transplacental priming of the human immune system with environmental allergens can occur at early gestational age. J Allergy Clin Immunol 106:530-536. PMID: 10984374
  2. Eiwegger T, Gruber S, Geiger C, Mayer E, Dehlink E, Bannert C, Frischer T, Kasper D, Jaksch P, Klepetko W, Akdis C, Szépfalusi Z. 2011. Impact of systemic immuno-suppression after solid organ transplantation on allergen-specific responses. DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2010.02475.x Allergy 66:271-278. PMID: 21208218
  3. Dehlink E, Platzer B, Baker AH, Larosa J, Pardo M, Dwyer P, Yen EH, Szépfalusi Z, Nurko S, Fiebiger E. 2011. A soluble form of the high affinity IgE receptor, Fc-Epsilon-RI, circulates in human serum. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019098. PLoS One. 6:e19098. PMID: 21544204
  4. Gruber S, Eiwegger T, Nachbaur E, Tiringer K, Aigner C, Jaksch P, Keplinger M, Klepetko W, Lang G, Taghavi S, Graf A, Eichler I, Frischer T, Szépfalusi Z. 2012. DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00092211. Eur Respir J. 40:462-9. PMID: 22362858
  5. Tiringer K, Treis A, Fucik P, Gona M, Gruber S, Renner S, Dehlink E, Nachbaur E, Horak F, Jaksch P, Döring G, Crameri R, Jung A, Rochat MK, Hörmann M, Spittler A, Klepetko W, Akdis CA, Szépfalusi Z, Frischer T, Eiwegger T. 2013. A Th17- and Th2-skewed Cytokine Profile in Cystic Fibrosis Lungs Represents a Potential Risk Factor for Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infection. DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201206-1150OC. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 187:621-9. PMID: 23306544

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