Pulmonary Immunity

Investigators in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine have made major contributions to our understanding of lung immunity, including innate and acquired immunity. Transformative research performed in the division has defined basic mechanisms of leukocyte recruitment, activation, and differentiation during infection, and include the study of neutrophils, resident and recruited pulmonary macrophages, dendritic cells, and specific T cell populations within the lung. Notable areas of expertise include antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal lung host defense, toll like receptor and NOD-like receptor biology, antimicrobial peptide expression and function, epigenetic regulation of innate immune responses, mechanisms of immune tolerance, and the contribution of respiratory epithelium to innate immunity. Mechanisms by which maladaptive innate immune responses instruct the development of acquired immunity is an active area of research.

Pulmonary investigators have employed immunologic, molecular, bone marrow chimera, and stable and conditional transgenic model systems to identify key molecules, cells, and signaling pathways involved.

Emerging areas of investigation include studies to define the microbiome in the mammalian host and its interaction with pulmonary host defenses utilizing functional metagenomic and immunologic approaches. Translational research identifying mechanisms of impaired innate immunity during critical illness have fueled the design of bench-to-bedside clinical trials aimed at identifying and reversing these defects in critically ill patients.