Members of the Immunology Graduate Faculty conduct internationally recognized research and provide graduate training in all areas of modern immunology. Follow the links to explore the research underway in our laboratories.
Neutrophils produce IL-17A in a Dectin-1 and IL-23 dependent manner during invasive fungal infection
Dr. Chad Steele’s research group has previously reported that immune defense against lung infection with the fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus, a major cause of mortality in patients undergoing hematopoietic and solid organ transplantation, involved the cytokine IL-17A (Werner et al. J Immunol 182:4938; 2009). In the current manuscript, Dr. Steele’s group discovered that the essential cell type required for clearing A. fumigatus from the lungs, neutrophils, was also a critical cellular source of IL-17A during lung infection. Lung IL-17A production by neutrophils was dependent on both the pattern recognition receptor Dectin-1 as well as Dectin-1-mediated IL-23 production. These data provides additional insight into the complex role of Dectin-1 in anti-fungal immunity and the generation of IL-17A responses. Read the details: Werner et al. Infect Immun Aug. 1 2011.
FcR - like molecules: MHC Class II molecules?
FcR-like molecules are members of a recently described family that have structural homology to the classical Fc receptors that bind various subclasses of antibodies. These molecules have been enigmatic in that their ligands and functions remain undefined. Studies in Randall Davis’ lab have now shown that FcR-like 6 is expressed exclusively by cytotoxic T and NK cells and surprisingly binds directly to HLA-DR, a MHC Class II molecule. These results may provide insight in HLA disease susceptibility and pathogenesis.
Read the details: Schreeder et al., JI 185:23, 2010
T cells subsets modulate efficacy of IFN-b treatment
Interferon-b is a common treatment used for multiple sclerosis, but is effective for only about 30% of patients with the disease. Studies from Dr. Chander Raman’s group now suggest that patients whose disease is driven by Th17 T cells, will not benefit from IFN-b therapy and that these patients likely have high levels of interleukin-17 in their serum. These results suggest that monitoring IL-17 in serum may prove useful in determining which patients will benefit from IFN-b therapy.
Read the details: Axtell et al., Nat. Med. 16:406, 2010
CRP and complement conspire in vascular injury
Previous studies by Alex Szalai’s group have shown that CRP contributes to vascular injury, but how it mediated this effect was unclear. In this study they show that the complement, known for it’s ability to promote inflammation and tissue destruction, is required for the CRP-mediated effect. These studies suggest that modulation of C3 and CRP in vascular injury settings may be therapeutically beneficial.
Read the details: Hage et al., Arterioscler. Thromb. Vac. Biol. 30:1189, 2010
Stimulus funding update:
To date UAB has been awarded over $71 million in NIH stimulus funds, of those funds over $17.7 million went to faculty members in the Immunology graduate theme.