The new lab website can be found here: http://sites.duke.edu/macleodlab/
If you are interested in joining our laboratory, please contact Amanda MacLeod (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our lab investigates surveillance and repair functions in the skin. Within this broad research area, we focus on immune regulation and modulation during skin injury, infection, and cancer.
Skin is an active immune organ and comprises not only keratinocytes, but also harbors tissue-resident T cells, dendritic cells, macrophages and other immune cells. This interplay of innate and adaptive immune cells facilitates surveillance and repair functions in the skin under homeostatic and challenged conditions.
I. Immune regulation and modulation during skin injury and infection
Damage to the skin through physical injury and microbes initiates release of multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators including IL-17, extracellular ATP, nucleic acids, NO, as well as antimicrobial peptides and proteins. Upon skin injury, inflammatory immune responses are aimed at clearing microbial contaminations before a repair program can subsequently facilitate wound closure. However, prolonged inflammation is detrimental and mediates tissue damage and is considered a major pathogenic factor for the development of chronic non-healing wounds and may be a trigger for auto-inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis. Therefore, fine regulation of the cutaneous immune response is critical to maintain skin barrier function and protection upon injury and infection. The focus of our laboratory is on identifying and characterizing such key factors that regulate innate and adaptive immunity in the skin. In particular, we focus on the regulation of innate antimicrobial peptides and proteins which provide a natural protection against pathogens. Amongst those molecules, we have identified taht antiviral proteins are abundantly expressed and induced in the skin. We use interdisciplinary approaches, including molecular and cellular biology approaches, human and murine wound, infection and inflammation model systems to study how host factors drive skin barrier immunity.
II. Mechanisms of immune escape in human squamous cell carcinoma
Despite an existing complex network of immune surveillance mechanisms in human skin, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers in humans. Excessive UV exposure, several chemicals (incurred by tobacco use or during military service), immunosuppression (upon organ transplantation) as well as chronic non-healing wounds are major risk factors for SCC. Our goal is to define immune surveillance and escape mechanisms present in the human SCC microenvironment to ultimately identify novel targets for immunotherapy. In particular, we are interested in the role of skin-resident T cell and DC/macrophage function and our goal is to understand how SCC hijacks immune cell-mediated danger signals and effector molecules to shut off protective immunity. Furthermore, we seek to understand the underlying mechanisms of how immunosuppressive treatments used in transplant organ patients selectively alter skin immunity to promote immune tolerance. A combination of genome-wide interrogation of gene expression in different SCC patient populations, and use of knockout mouse models and human primary cells and tissues will dissect the contribution of key molecules in skin immune function and escape.
III. Development of non-invasive skin disease detection assays
In collaborative efforts with the Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology, Integrative Genomic Analysis Shared Resource, and the Duke Dermatology Clinic we aim to identify skin-disease specific biomarker features that allow the development of non-invasive disease detection assays. Such approach of diagnosing skin diseases is of extremely high clinical and translational value.
Complete List of Published Work can be found here:
Her maiden name Büchau was used prior to MacLeod.