Medicine & Dentistry-Dentistry and Dental Hygiene
University of Alberta
Summary of research:
Newborn infants are highly susceptible to infection. This defect in host defense has generally been ascribed to the immaturity of neonatal immune cells; however we have recently shown that physiologically enriched CD71+ erythroid cells in neonatal mice and human cord blood have distinctive immunosuppressive properties. CD71 enrichment at early stage of life reduces the inflammation that results from colonization with commensal microorganisms after birth. Thus infection susceptibility in neonates may reflect, among other elements, an essential step in the gut colonization, rather than a defect of the immune system. My current research activities are: a) To determine the role of CD71+ erythroid cells in the pathogenesis of Necrotizing enterocolitis. b) To investigate the role of CD71+ erythroid cells in fetal-maternal tolerance c) To develop novel strategies for protecting newborns from systemic infections while still allowing CD71+ cells to do their job in helping develop healthy intestines. I anticipate that these studies will improve strategies for augmenting host defense in this vulnerable population.