The Nutritional Immunology Laboratory investigates the role of dietary components and their interactions with other environmental factors and genes in age-associated changes of both the immune and inflammatory responses. Our research looks to reverse and/or delay the onset of these immunologic and age-related changes by appropriate dietary modifications and to determine the molecular mechanisms by which nutrients modulate immune cell functions. Methods are being developed to use the immune response as a biologically meaningful index in determining specific dietary requirements. The laboratory uses a translational approach to: 1) Study cellular and molecular mechanisms of age and nutrition-induced changes in immune and inflammatory responses. 2) Determine the efficacy of food components including total calories, lipids, micronutrients such as vitamin E, and zinc, as well as flavonoids such as those in green tea and wolfberry, and pre- and pro-biotics on improving the immune function and/or dampening the inflammatory responses using cell culture, animal models and clinical trials. 3) Determine the efficacy of food components such as micronutrients in the prevention of infectious diseases in animal models, clinical trials and observational studies in US and less developed countries. 4) Determine the impact of reducing caloric intake on immune response of humans.
1. Investigate the molecular and cellular basis of age-related decline in T cell function and its reversal by vitamin E.
a. Determine the mechanisms of Vitamin E-induced enhancement of T cell function in the aged with focus on early activation signaling and membrane related events.
b. Determine the contribution of polymorphisms at cytokine genes to heterogeneity of vitamin E-induced effects on cytokine production and resistance to respiratory infections.
2. Determine the effect of reducing caloric intake on the immune response of humans.
3. Determine the effect and mechanisms of food components and their interaction with age on immune function and infectious diseases.
Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., Laboratory Director
HNRCA Center Director, Senior Scientist and Professor, Nutrition and Immunology
Research focus: age- and nutrient-induced changes in immune and inflammatory response, their underlying mechanisms and clinical implications
Dayong Wu, M.D., Ph.D. Scientist I and Associate Professor, Nutrition
Research focus: effects of dietary lipids, antioxidant nutrients, and other food components on immune and inflammatory responses; eicosanoid metabolism and immune function; molecular mechanisms of age-related changes in immune cells
Angelo Azzi, M.D., Ph.D.
Research focus: the molecular function of tocopherols and carotenoids
Junaidah Bajrai Barnett, Ph.D.
Research focus: effects of nutrients, dietary and other factors on infectious and chronic diseases
David Hamer, M.D.
Adjunct Professor of Nutrition
Research focus: nutritional relationships of infectious disease
Basil Fine, M.D.
Research focus: infectious diseases in the elderly
Sarbattama Sen, M.D.
Research focus: maternal obesity and offspring immune dysregulation
Zhihong Ren, Ph.D.
Research focus: effect of age and nutrients on food-borne pathogens
Junpeng Wang, Ph.D.
Research focus: nurtitional modulation of T cell function and autoimmune disorders.
Lixin Na, M.S.,Visiting Scholar
Yanmei Xu, M.S.,Visiting Scholar
Lijun Li, B.S.,Research Assistant
Naglaa El-Abbadi, B.S., Research Assistant
Maria Carlota Dao-Saldivia, B.S., M.S., Graduate Research Assistant
Mitra Rozati, M.S., Graduate Student, University of Mass, Lowell, Ph.D. candidate
Stephanie Marco, M.A., N.H. Cert., Administrative Coordinator
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