University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

huber_lab

Huber Lab Research

Mission statement:

Research: To determine how virus infections trigger the development of autoimmunity.

Education: To provide students with a thorough understanding of basic immunology and virology; to aid students in the development of research skills needed for success in biomedical research through service on thesis committees.

Overview of current areas of research and approaches:

Role of T Regulatory Cells in Viral Myocarditis: Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle which often follows microbial infections. Many different types of microbes including bacteria, protozoa, fungi, helmiths and viruses can cause this disease. Among viruses, enteroviruses of the picornavirus family are dominant and are found in the cardiac tissues of 14-33% of patients with active myocarditis and 8-35% of patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Clinically, myocarditis is a male-dominant disease. Twice as many men as women are diagnosed with this disease. A mouse model of viral myocarditis has been developed which shares many of the same histological and epidemiological characteristics as the clinical disease. The goal of my research is to investigate the role of T regulatory cells and sex hormones in the coxsackievirus B3 model of myocarditis. I have investigated coxsackievirus B3 induced myocarditis for over 30 years and have published extensively on the sex bias for cardiac pathology and the optimal development of adaptive immunity and autoimmunity in this viral model. I demonstrated that male mice develop autoimmunity to heart antigens leading to cardiac failure while females fail to activate autoimmunity due to preferential generation of CD4+FoxP3+ T regulatory cells in this sex. Hormones are primarily responsible for the sex bias as castration of males prevents autoimmunity and increases T regulatory cell response while restoration of testosterone in the males restores pathogenesis. Also, administration of estradiol protects the males.

Technologies and functioning of the laboratory: We use both in vitro cell culture and in vivo animal modeling approaches. State-of-the-art techniques in immunology and virology have been established in the laboratory including flow cytometry, viral titers, cytotoxicity assays, ELISA, and tissue culture.

Last modified June 11 2012 12:20 PM