Office: R4 272
Baohua Zhou, PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
HB Wells Center for Pediatric Research
Indiana University School of Medicine
- PhD: University of Washington, Seattle, WA
- Postdoctoral Fellowships: Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason,
Current Research Interests:
Research in the lab focuses on understanding the pathophysiology of allergic airway inflammation. In the past, we demonstrated that thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) plays an important role in the development of allergic inflammation. Through the following projects, we expect to further define the molecular and cellular actions of TSLP in the initiation and progression of allergic diseases.
- Studies in the lab showed that TSLP at a very low concentration was capable of suppressing naïve CD4 T cells to differentiate into inducible regulatory T cells (iTregs) without promoting T helper 2 (Th2) differentiation. We also found that infants with atopic dermatitis (AD) have increased serum TSLP concentration sufficient to suppress iTreg differentiation but below the level required to enhance Th2 differentiation. We are testing our hypothesis that systemic TSLP derived from inflamed skin of infants with AD inhibits antigen-specific iTreg differentiation when airway tolerance is being established, rendering these infants more susceptible to sensitization against aerosol antigens and progression to asthma.
- 2) A proper balance between effector T cells (Teff) and regulatory T cells (Treg) is key to maintaining a healthy balance of immunity and tolerance at the mucosal surfaces. Our preliminary studies demonstrate that TSLP signaling in CD4 T cells at the time of T cell activation is required for long term survival of Teff cells. Furthermore, TSLP produced at the time of allergen challenge significantly inhibited antigen-specific inducible regulatory T cells. These data suggest that targeting TSLP might decrease antigen-specific Th2/Th9 memory cells while increase Treg populations thus reversing the Teff/Treg ratio to induce tolerance against sensitized allergens. New strategies are also being explored to enhance the efficacy of allergen immunotherapy.