Research Group

  • Dr Anita S. Chong, Principal Investigator
  • Dr Maria-Luisa Alegre, Collaborator
  • Dr Chyung-Ru Wang, Collaborator


  • The University of Chicago, Chicago, USA


  • Bacterial Infections and Transplantation Tolerance

The ability to successfully alter the immune system to allow specific acceptance of transplanted organs, without the use of continued immunosuppression, is the long-term goal of this research. Mouse models of transplantation tolerance can now be readily achieved for a variety of organs, such as hearts, kidney and islets. However, transplanted organs such as the skin and small bowel are more resistant to tolerance induction. In addition, transplantation tolerance has been difficult to achieve in non-human primates and in the clinic.

Considerable effort in the field is currently focused on understanding how organs resist tolerance induction, and on how tolerance, once achieved, is reversed. We hypothesize that one reason some organs, such as the skin, lung and small bowel, resist tolerance induction is that these organs, upon surgical implantation, are more likely to expose the immune system to bacterial infections. We theorize that the concurrent exposure of the immune system to the allograft and bacterial infection prevents the development of transplantation tolerance. We further hypothesize that systemic bacterial infections is a significant cause for the reversal of long-term transplantation tolerance. The studies we have proposed will test these two hypotheses, define the mechanisms by which bacterial infections alter allograft tolerance,and explore new tolerigenic strategies based on these hypotheses.