Kathleen Gilbert, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Cellular and molecular mechanisms of tolerance induction
., Tulane University
Sloan-Kettering Institute, NY, and The National Institute for Medical Research, London
Autoimmune diseases are primarily driven by the T cells of the immune system, and involve the activation of self-reactive T cells that are normally kept quiescent by the immune mechanism referred to as peripheral T cell tolerance. This mechanism clearly breaks down in the autoimmune state. Autoimmune diseases are most often treated with drugs that nonspecifically suppress all T cell function, and can lead to severe side effects. In an attempt to develop a better treatment for autoimmune disease we are studying a newly patented compound that appears to specifically inactivate only the self-reactive T cells involved in autoimmunity, and thereby restore a state of T cell tolerance to self-antigens.
In order to promote the use of T cell tolerance induction as a method of immune intervention, we are studying the molecular mechanisms that mediate this event. This approach uses cloned mouse T cells, and concentrates on studying how one family of cellular proteins that regulate cell cycle, namely cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, interact with other signal transduction pathways that control T cell proliferation.
Lastly, this laboratory is studying how different environmental toxicants found in the water supply promote autoimmune disease. This study uses MRL+/+ mice and studies the various immune system changes that occur when these mice are exposed to environmental chemicals. Mechanistic studies concerning how these chemicals promote T cell activation are also underway.
Blossom, S.J., Doss, J.C., and Gilbert K.M. 2006. Ability of Environmental Toxicant trichloroethylene to promote immune pathology is strain specific. in press. J. Immunotox.
Blossom, S.J, Doss, J.C, Gilbert, K.M. 2006. Chronic exposure to a trichloroethylene metabolite in autoimmune-prone MRL+/+ mice promotes immune modulation and alopecia. Tox. Sci, Oct. 31; Epub ahead of print.
Blossom, S.J., Gilbert, K.M. 2006. Exposure to an environmental toxicant, trichloroethylene, attenuates CD4 + T cell activation-induced cell death by metalloproteinase-dependent FasL shedding. Tox. Sci. July; 92 (1) 103-114.
Blossom, S.J., Pumford, N.R., Gilbert, K.M. 2004. Activation and attenuation of apoptosis of CD4 + T cells following in vivo exposure to two common environmental toxicants, trichloroacetaldehyde hydrate and trichloroacetic acid. J. Autoimmun. Nov.; 23 (3) 211-20.
View Dr. Gilbert's Pubmed publication list