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Reflecting on the European Phagocyte Workshop 2024: Insights from nanoPASS partners

8 April 2024

The European Phagocyte Workshop 2024, held in Visegrád, Hungary, from March 20-23, marked a significant milestone in the field of phagocyte research. This year's workshop, following nearly four decades of phagocyte-focused meetings across Europe, including last year's event in Budapest, brought together 100 scientists from the USA, EU, and Asia. These attendees represented a blend of academia, industry, policy makers, and regulators, all unified by their interest in the biology of leukocytes.

Among the attendees were Tobias Stöger and Markus Rehberg from the partner organisation, Helmholtz München, who not only participated but also contributed their insights through presentations. Their work, pivotal in the study of phagocytes' interaction with nanomaterials, underscores the importance of this research in the context of respiratory toxicology.

Unveiling the Dynamics of Macrophages
Tobias Stöger, presenting in the "Macrophages" session on March 22, highlighted the outcomes of a mouse exposure study conducted under the HARMLESS project. By employing single-cell RNA sequencing, Stöger's talk, titled "Macrophage dynamics during nanoparticle triggered lung inflammation revealed by single-cell transcriptomics in mice," shed light on the material-specific cellular perturbation patterns for carbon-based nanomaterials. This research is critical, as it unveils the intricate biological responses of macrophages to inhaled nanomaterials, providing insights into their role in lung inflammation.

Mapping Neutrophil Recruitment
Markus Rehberg's presentation, delivered during the session on March 21, focused on the early stages of immune response to nanoparticle inhalation. His talk, "Alveolar macrophages initiate the spatially restricted neutrophil recruitment during nanoparticle inhalation," explored how alveolar macrophages play a crucial role in orchestrating the recruitment of neutrophils to sites of nanoparticle deposition. This work is vital for understanding the initial immune responses to inhaled particles and could have implications for developing safer nanomaterials.

The Importance of Phagocytes in Respiratory Toxicology
The decision to participate in the European Phagocyte Workshop 2024 was driven by the central role of phagocytes in respiratory toxicology. As scavenger cells, phagocytes accumulate high doses of inhaled nanomaterials due to their biology. This makes them particularly relevant for studying the impacts of nanomaterials on respiratory health. Through their presentations, Stöger and Rehberg highlighted the forefront of research in understanding how phagocytes interact with and respond to nanomaterials.

Helmholtz  München's active involvement in this workshop not only contributes to the global understanding of phagocyte biology but also underscores the institute's commitment to advancing the field of respiratory toxicology. As we continue to explore the interactions between nanomaterials and biological systems, events like the European Phagocyte Workshop provide an invaluable platform for sharing knowledge, fostering collaborations, and advancing our understanding of these critical interactions.