RESEARCH

The objective of Dr. Akbari’s laboratory is to characterize and define acquired and innate immune responses at mucosal surfaces; investigate the mechanisms underlying regulation of these responses; explore the mechanisms by which those responses contribute to inflammatory, autoimmune allergic diseases and asthma; and determine means by which those responses can be specifically manipulated.

The studies and research interests of Dr. Akbari’s laboratory can be categorized into four major areas:

1.   T cell subsets, costimulatory molecule and immunoregulation of diseases

          We are interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the development and function of T-cell subsets that produce different cytokines and are involved in inflammation and cancer.

2.   Role of dendritic cell subsets in regulation of immune responses

            Our research is focused on the mechanisms employed by dendritic cells to regulate lymphocyte function in tolerance and immunity, as well as the use of dendritic cells and their subsets to understand the development of immune-based diseases for design of new therapies and vaccines.

3.   The requirements for NKT activation, migration and homeostasis

          NKT cells, as one of the more prominent populations of innate lymphocytes in mice and humans, recognize key inflammatory and microbial lipids. The latter signals trigger a cellular network that activates innate immunity, promotes adaptive immune responses, and influences the corresponding T helper phenotype. Our studies seek an understanding of the cellular and molecular determinants of NKT lineage development, their lipid antigens, and their role in progression of inflammation and cancer.

4.   Role of Innate Lymphoid cells in allergic disease and asthma

              We intend to explore how type 2 responses are initiated, potentiated and maintained, focusing on group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2 cells) and their interactions with other innate and adaptive cells that orchestrate and execute inflammation.