Juan Jose Lafaille

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Juan Lafaille

Professor, Department of Pathology
Professor, Department of Medicine

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Research Summary

Although most normal immune responses against pathogens require the action of T-lymphocytes, their improper control lies at the heart of two types of disease: autoimmunity and allergy. Our laboratory uses transgenic and knockout mice to study the molecular mechanisms responsible for the normal control of T-lymphocyte reactivity and the changes that occur when T-lymphocytes become either aggressive against self antigens or inappropriately reactive against substances (allergens) normally present in the environment.

Currently, we are examining the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for multiple sclerosis, in transgenic mice bearing antimyelin basic protein (MBP) T-lymphocytes. Mice harboring large numbers of anti-MBP T-lymphocytes in addition to other lymphocytes seldom develop EAE spontaneously. However, when these mice are crossed with RAG-l KO mice, thereby producing only anti-MBP T-lymphocytes, they all develop spontaneous EAE. The sharp contrast in susceptibility to EAE between the two types of anti-MBP transgenic mice, one carrying regulatory lymphocytes and the other not, enables us to pursue identifying and characterizating those cells. We also focus on a transgenic mouse model for asthma to determine in vivo the factors controlling the synthesis of important interleukins involved in the asthmatic process such as IL-4 and IL-5 and the increased production of immunoglobulin E.

Research Interests

Molecular Pathogenesis of Autoimmune and Allergic Diseases