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Rianne (R) Opstelten


BSc Molecular Lifesciences (Maastricht University), MPhil Fundamental Neuroscience (Maastricht University)

Research interests

Alloreactive T cells in cord blood (CB) grafts contribute to the success of stem cell therapy in leukemia patients by preventing tumor relapse. Epidemiological studies on HLA matching have led to the hypothesis that maternal T cells (mT cells) may be present in CB and contribute to better prognosis by suppressing leukemic relapse without elevated graft versus host disease (GvHD). In previous studies performed by our group, a distinct population of mT cells has been found in human CB. This population is markedly different from the T cell compartment found in blood from the mother (MB) and contains predominantly CD4 T cells, phenotypically resembling Treg, and CD8 T cells, resembling central memory T cells (Tcm). This distinctive composition suggests that transfer of T cells may not be a consequence of passive leakage, but represents a regulated process and therefore may serve a function. Thus, mTcm cells may transfer cellular immunity to the child and mTreg cells may help the child maintain immunological tolerance after birth, for instance by suppressing responses to commensal micro-organisms. Alternatively, the presence of mT cells in fetuses may be an accident of nature, and result in the generation of memory T cells and Tregs directed against the paternal HLA’s that are inherited by the child and are foreign to the maternal immune system. Indeed, this latter possibility might at least partially explain the superior suppression of leukemic relapse in patients. Characterization of transgenerational mT cells may affect the practice of stem cell transplantation, for instance, by deliberate inclusion of such cells in grafts and/or by screening for their presence and phenotype as a criterion for optimal graft selection.

  • Flow cytometry
  • Cell & tissue culture
  • RT-qPCR
  • Cytometric Bead Array & MSD V-plex
  • Immunohistochemistry & microscopy (Brightfield & fluorescence)
  • 2D-DIGE, SDS-PAGE & Western blotting
  • Behavioural testing in rats & mice
2015-present PhD student at the Dept of Hematopoiesis, Sanquin Research, Amsterdam
2011-2014 PhD student at the Dept of Psychiatry & Neuropsychology, Maastricht University.
Title: Chronic low-grade inflammation as a rat model for a depressive-like phenotype
2011 Traineeship at the department of Psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland,
Dublin, IE
Titlle: Proteomic analysis of hippocampal protein expression in prenatally stressed mice
2010 Traineeship at the Dept of Psychiatry & Neuropsychology, Maastricht University.
Titel: Amyloid β expression in transgenic Alzheimer mice (APPPS1/UBB+1)
2009-2011 MPhil degree in Fundamental Neuroscience, Maastricht University
2007 Traineeship at the Dept of Human Biology, Maastricht University.
Title: The effect of hypoxic conditions on membrane phospholipid scrambling in human adipocytes
2005-2009 BSc degree in Molecular Lifesciences and all extracurricular 2nd and 3rd year neurobiology courses of the Psychology Bachelor, Maastricht University.


Sanquin publications
Other publications

Föcking M, Opstelten R, Prickaerts J, Steinbusch HWM, Dunn MJ, van den Hove DLA and Cotter DR. Proteomic investigation of the hippocampus in prenatally stressed mice implicates changes in membrane trafficking, cytoskeletal and metabolic function. Dev Neurosci 2014; 36(5):432-42.

Van den Hove DLA, Kenis G, Brass A, Opstelten R, Rutten BPF, Bruschettini M, Blanco CE, Lesch KP, Steinbusch HWM and Pickaerts J. Vulnerability versus resilience to prenatal stress in male and female rats; implications from gene expression profiles in the hippocampus and frontal cortex. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2013; 23(10):1226-46.

Last edited on: 20 April 2016
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