Luo Laboratory Research

Ongoing Projects

  1. Role of gut microbiota in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE is a very complex autoimmune disorder with no known cure. It is characterized by severe and persistent inflammation that damages multiple organs, including skin, kidney, lung, joint, heart, and brain. More than half of patients suffer from lupus nephritis, a leading cause of death in patients with SLE. Current treatments for lupus nephritis are primarily nonselective immunosuppressants. They can effectively reduce the risk for renal failure, but the side effects are a major cause of concern. There is an imperative need for new treatment strategies against lupus nephritis, for which a better understanding of disease pathogenesis is required. Perturbation of gut microbiota has been shown to be associated with many autoimmune diseases, but little is known about the role of gut microbiota in SLE. In an NIH-funded project (R01), we study both protective and pathogenic roles of gut microbiota in mouse models of SLE as well as in human patients.
  2. Complex roles of vitamin A in autoimmunity. Vitamin A and its active metabolite, retinoic acid (RA), are known to exert both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory functions depending on different contexts. RA can suppress inflammation and induce tolerance under steady state. Paradoxically, it can also act as an adjuvant to promote ongoing inflammation against infections. This conundrum on the functions of RA is much less understood for autoimmunity. Evidence is lacking on whether and how RA affects the initiation and progression of autoimmune disorders, which as a whole are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. In an NIH-funded project, we aim to define the complex roles of RA in autoimmunity.

Collaborators

Virginia Tech

Dr. Ansar Ahmed, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Dr. Chris Reilly, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Dr. Tom Cecere, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Dr. Michelle Theus, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Dr. Irving Coy Allen, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Dr. Terry Hrubec, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Dr. Caroline Jones, Department of Biological Sciences
Dr. Liwu Li, Department of Biological Sciences
Dr. Caroline Leeth, Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences
Dr. Matthias Chung, Department of Mathematics

Other Institutions

Dr. Adegbenga Bankole Carilion Clinic & Carilion School of Medicine
Dr. Catharine Ross, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Dr. Husen Zhang, Independent Bioinformatician