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Prof. Dr. Hajo Haase

Picture of Prof. Dr. Hajo Haase

P5: Immune modulatory effects of trace element combinations in the aging immune system


Berlin Institute of Technology
Institute of Food Technology and
Food Chemistry
Secretariat TIB 4/3-1
Gustav-Meyer-Allee 25
13355 Berlin

Specific Qualification in TraceAge

Hajo Haase and his group have investigated the biological roles of trace elements, in particular Zn, in biology for the last 17 years. A special focus was, and still is, the role of Zn signals, i.e., changes in the intracellular concentration or distribution of free Zn ions that transmit biological information. The overall aim is to measure zinc signals and understand their function in the respective signal transduction pathways, and they were even able to identify molecular targets for zinc signals, such as cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases and protein tyrosine phosphatases. Zinc signals are crucial for regulation of immune cell activity. The Haase team could show that they are fine tuning signaling by Toll-like receptor 4, promoting the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, whereas they downregulate the production of type-1 interferons and nitric monoxide. Another project has shown that Interleukin-2-dependent signal transduction and proliferation of T-cells is based on inhibition of MAPK-phosphatases and PTEN by Zn. To examine the in vivo relevance of Zn in inflammatory signaling, they used an experimentally induced sepsis in pigs, confirming a reduction of total serum Zn during inflammation. In addition, they developed a method for investigating free Zn in serum, showing significant changes in the biological availability of this trace element. Based on these results, the team started a clinical study in sepsis patients, finding that the level of Zn was a superior diagnostic marker for survival probability and the recurrence of sepsis compared to other well-established clinical markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein and procalcitonin. Zn-buffering capacity and thereby free Zn in serum was dramatically altered, suggesting that it could be a superior indicator of zinc status and inflammation. However, in order to evaluate the usefulness of free Zn as a general marker for zinc status, e.g., in the context of aging and low grade inflammation, significantly higher sample numbers (as the ones suggested in the present project) will be required. Finally, their recent work has led to the developed and successful application of methods for analyzing the spatial distribution of free Zn in frozen tissue sections, in order to extend their in vivo investigations to other matrices in addition to serum.

Qualifications and Scientific Career


Doctoral degree (Dr. rer. medic.), RWTH Aachen


Consultant Immunologist (Fachimmunologe), German Society for Immunology (DGfI)


W2 Professorship in Food Chemistry and Toxicology, Berlin Institute of Technology


Additional membership, Faculty of mathematics, IT, and science, RWTH Aachen


Adjunct Professor (apl. Professor), Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen


Venia Legendi in “Immunology and Toxicology”, RWTH Aachen


Senior Scientist, Institute of Immunology, RWTH Aachen University Hospital


Assistant professor (Juniorprofessor) for low molecular weight immune regulators, Institute of Immunology, RWTH Aachen University Hospital


Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences and Medicine, Harvard Medical School


PhD thesis (Dr. rer. nat.) in the group of Prof. Dr. Detmar Beyersmann, University of Bremen


Studies of chemistry (Dipl. Chem.), University of Bremen

Membership in Scientific Committees (selection)

DGfI (German Society of Immunology)

ISZB (International Society for Zinc Biology)

COST Action TD1304 “The Network for the Biology of Zinc (Zinc-Net) “