Diabetes and other autoimmune endocrine diseases
Disorders involving obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome have become a predominant health issues in the United States and around the world. According to the CDC 36% of adults in the US qualify as obese, leading to a variety of negative health outcomes and billions of dollars in medical costs.
One of the hallmarks of obesity is inflammation of the adipose tissue mediated by a combination of hormones and cytokines produced by immune cells. Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a heterogeneous population of innate immune cells defined, in part, by their ability to quickly release cytokines after activation. NKT cells have been implicated in the maintenance of healthy adipose tissue and loss of NKT cells in obesity has been correlated with increased inflammation and both glucose and insulin intolerance.
We hope to further elucidate NKT cells' role in adipose tissue, after activation. We also hope to define the molecules responsible for mediating NKT cells' activity in a healthy adipose environment, with the goal of modulating these cells to improve health outcomes in the disease state.
The inhibitor of DNA binding proteins, Id2 and Id3, have been implicated in the proper maturation of NKT cells in the thymus. Though their roles in NKT cell maintenance and activation in the periphery have been relatively unexplored. Here we use both a GFP reporter and conditionally deficient constructs to determine the roles that Id2 and Id3 play in NKT cell activation in adipose tissue.