Ruth R Montgomery PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology)
Innate Immunity; Macrophage; Neutrophil; Aging; West Nile Virus; Lyme Disease
The focus of our lab’s research is on innate immunity, specifically the interaction of macrophages, neutrophils, and dendritic cells with pathogens. We study the effect of aging and immunosuppression on immune responses and specifically on the expression and efficiency of Toll-Like receptors. In our studies from a large cohort of human subjects, we have shown that older donors express lower levels of certain TLRs and show dysregulation of immune pathways in aging.
Our studies on West Nile virus (WNV) have shown that infection attenuates the activation of macrophages and interferes with intracellular signaling pathways. We have shown dysregulation of TLR3 in macrophages from older donors infected with WNV that leads to higher expression of cytokines and which may contribute to more severe infection in the elderly. We have evaluated the contribution of macrophages and neutrophils in several murine models of WNV infection, and in a genome-wide RNAi screen to identify host factors involved in anti-viral responses.We conducted a comprehensive examination of phagocyte killing mechanisms in Lyme disease, and we have identified components of vector saliva that inhibit PMN function through down-regulation of leukocyte integrins.
I am the Director of the Confocal Microscopy facility, which houses a Zeiss 510 META confocal microscope. In addition to our high-resolution confocal imaging studies on phagocytes, we have imaged entire Ixodes ticks (J. Exp. Med. cover image, June 2006), and intact salivary glands to demonstrate expression of a novel tick receptor for spirochete outer surface protein A, and efficient down-regulation of salivary anti-coagulants by RNAi.