The Microbiota in Immune-Mediated Diseases
Cladogram generated from IgA-Seq data of patients with antiphospholipid syndrome and control subjects.
The gut microbiota, the collection of trillions of commensals colonizing the gastrointestinal tract, does not elicit a pathologic immune response in healthy hosts even though immune cells are constantly in contact with microbial antigens at the mucosal surfaces. This phenomenon is partly due to the fact that the human microbiota and immune system have co-evolved for millennia with the host. Diet and environmental influences that have shaped these processes in the past are very different in today's societies. Recent changes in the gut microbial community composition are thought to contribute to metabolic and immune-mediated diseases.
An emerging theme in autoimmunity research is that outgrowth of detrimental commensals ("pathobionts") or loss of beneficial commensals ("symbionts") unleashes the autoimmune process in a genetically susceptible host by various mechanisms. While evidence exists for this paradigm in some mouse models, the proof in human autoimmune diseases is still outstanding.
Major aims of this laboratory are to define the microbial community composition of gastrointestinal, cutaneous and oral microbiomes in autoimmune diseases, to study host-microbiota interactions in vitro and vivo, and to potentially prove causal relationships using humanized gnotobiotic animals. The ultimate goal is to develop novel biomarkers and therapeutic strategies for human autoimmune diseases.
Lab Meetings take place every Thursday at 1:00 P.M. in the 3rd floor conference room at 300 George Street (room 354).
Journal Club alternating weekly with ‘Favorite Bug Club’ takes place every Friday at 12:00 P.M. in the same conference room at 300 George Street. Discussions in 'Favorite Bug Club' focus on individual commensal bacteria with immunologic, metabolic, or other disease-relevant features that have been described in the literature.