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Baohua Zhou, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Wells Center for Pediatric Research

Description and summary of research focus of the laboratory 

My laboratory focuses on mechanistic studies of pathogenesis of asthma and allergy. We are particularly interested in the early steps of allergen sensitization and Th2 memory generation and maintenance.

Allergic diseases have emerged as major health problems in western society with a dramatically increased prevalence over the past decades. Studies from our laboratory established that thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of asthma. Allergic airway inflammation in a murine asthma model was severely impaired in TSLP receptor (TSLPR) deficient mice.  All though TSLP itself did not directly induce airway inflammation, elevated airway TSLP level at the time of primary immune response against the inhaled antigen suppressed airway mucosal tolerance and promoted Th2 sensitization to the harmless antigen. Current experiments will address the questions of how TSLP leads to tolerance breakdown, and at the molecular level TSLP signaling suppresses antigen-induced Treg differentiation.

Another project in the lab examines the role of TSLP in Th2 polarization. It has been shown that low level inhaled LPS signaling through TLR4 is necessary to induce Th2 responses to inhaled antigens in a mouse model of allergic sensitization. Using TSLPR deficient mice, we found that low level inhaled LPS induced Th1 biased response rather Th2 responses, suggesting TSLP is important for Th2 polarization. How TSLP is involved in Th2 differentiation is currently being explored. 

  • Zhang, Y., Zhou, X., and Zhou, B. (2012) DC-derived TSLP promotes Th2 polarization in LPS-primed allergic airway inflammation. Eur. J. Immunol. 42:1735-1743.
  • Yu, Q., Zhou, B., Zhang, Y., Nguyen, E.T., Du, J., Glosson, N.L. and Kaplan, M.H. (2012) DNA methyltransferase 3a limits the expression of interleukin-13 in T helper 2 cells and allergic airway inflammation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:541-546. PMC3258606
  • Lei, L., Zhang, Y., Yao, W., Kaplan, M.H. and Zhou, B. (2011) Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin Interferes with Airway Tolerance by Suppressing the Generation of Antigen-Specific Regulatory T Cells. J Immunol 186:2254-2261. PMC3125594
  • Yeh, N., Glosson, N.L., Wang, N., Guindon, L., McKinley, C., Hamada, H., Li, Q., Dutton, R.W., Shrikant, P., Zhou, B., Brutkiewicz, R.R., Blum, J.S., and Kaplan, M.H. (2010) Tc17 cells are capable of mediating immunity to vaccinia virus by acquisition of a cytotoxic phenotype. J Immunol 185, 2089-2098.
  • Zhou, B., Williams, D. W., Altman, J., Riddiford, L. M. and Truman, J. W. (2009) Temporal patterns of broad isoform expression during the development of neuronal lineages in Drosophila. Neural Dev. 4, 39-56.
  • Headley, M.B., Zhou, B., Shih, W.X., Aye, T., Comeau, M.R., and Ziegler, S.F. (2009). TSLP conditions the lung immune environment for the generation of pathogenic innate and antigen-specific adaptive immune responses. J Immunol 182, 1641-1647. PMC3195412
  • Zhou, B., Headley, M., Aye, T., Tocker, J., Comeau, M. R. and Ziegler, S. F. (2008) Reversal of TSLP-induced airway inflammation through inhibition of Th2 responses. J. Immunol. 181, 6557-6562.  PMC2878483  ‡: Corresponding author.
  • Du, J., Huang C., Zhou, B. and Ziegler, S. F. (2008) Isoform-Specific Inhibition of RORa-mediated transcriptional activation by human FOXP3. J. Immunol. 180, 4785-4792.
  • Zhou, B., Comeau, M. R., Smedt, T. D., Liggitt, H. D., Dahl, M. E., Lewis, D. B., Gyarmati, D., Aye, T., Campbell, D. J. and Ziegler, S. F. (2005) Thymic stromal lymphopoietin as a key initiator of allergic airway inflammation in mice. Nat. Immunol. 6, 1047-1053.
  • Yoo, J., Omori, M., Gyarmati, D., Zhou, B., Aye, T., Brewer, A., Comeau, M. R., Campbell, D. J. and  Ziegler, S. F. (2005) Spontaneous atopic dermatitis in mice expressing an inducible thymic stromal lymphopoietin transgene specifically in the skin. J. Exp. Med. 202, 541-9.
  • B.Sc, 1986, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China
  • M.Sc, 1989, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China
  • PhD, 2000, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Postdoctoral, 2000-2006, Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, WA 

Department of Microbiology and Immunology | IU School of Medicine | 635 Barnhill Drive, MS 420 | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | (317) 274-0506