A pinboard by
Preeyam Patel

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Jewish Health

Interested in T cell fate decisions during early life


Early life microbial exposure can suppress allergies by promoting a balance among T cell subsets

Currently, an estimated 20% of the population worldwide suffers from an allergic disorder. Rates of allergies and asthma are disproportionately increased among children in industrialized countries compared to those in developing ones. The “hygiene hypothesis” suggests that these high rates of asthma are attributed to decreased exposure to microbes during early life.

Children are born with immune systems that are skewed towards being pro-allergic, which often times leads to them developing allergies and asthma. This allergic disposition is due to a skewing towards allergy-inducing T cells called TH2 cells. These TH2 cells can be suppressed or balanced out by other T cell subsets such as TH1 or regulatory T cells (Treg) that are stimulated by microbes. Although it is not possible to permanently alter the balance between these specialized T cell subsets (TH1, TH2, and Tregs) during adult life following the onset of asthma, it may be possible to do so during early life.

Unlike adult T cells, neonatal T cells exhibit a great deal of plasticity, and upon stimulation can become asthma-suppressing Tregs. Our laboratory has developed mice that express fluorescent reporters to track and identify TH1, TH2, and Tregs throughout development. I am currently interested in developing a microbe-derived vaccine or probiotic that will be administered during childhood to decrease the skewing towards a TH2 response and promote a balance among TH1, TH2, and Treg cells for the prevention of asthma.


Genome-wide association study and meta-analysis in multiple populations identifies new loci for peanut allergy and establishes c11orf30/EMSY as a genetic risk factor for food allergy.

Abstract: Peanut allergy (PA) is a complex disease with both environmental and genetic risk factors. Previously PA loci were identified in FLG and HLA in candidate gene studies, and loci in HLA in a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis.To investigate genetic susceptibility to PA.Eight hundred and fifty cases and 926 hyper-controls and >7.8 million genotyped and imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were analyzed in a genome-wide association study to identify susceptibility variants for PA in the Canadian population. Meta-analysis of two phenotypes (PA and food allergy) was conducted using 7 studies from the Canadian, American (2), Australian, German and Dutch (2) populations.A SNP near ITGA6 reached genome-wide significance with PA (p=1.80×10(-8)), while SNPs associated with SKAP1, MMP12/MMP13, CTNNA3, ARHGAP24, ANGPT4, c11orf30 (EMSY), and EXOC4 reached a threshold suggestive of association (p≤1.49×10(-6)). In the meta-analysis of PA, loci in or near ITGA6, ANGPT4, MMP12/MMP13, c11orf30 and EXOC4 were significant (p≤1.49×10(-6)). When a phenotype of any food allergy was used for meta-analysis, the c11orf30 locus reached genome-wide significance (p=7.50×10(-11)), while SNPs associated with ITGA6, ANGPT4, MMP12/MMP13, EXOC4 and additional c11orf30 SNPs were suggestive (p≤1.49×10(-6)). Functional annotation indicated SKAP1 regulates expression of CBX1, which co-localizes with the EMSY protein coded by c11orf30.This study identifies multiple novel loci as risk factors for PA and food allergy and establishes c11orf30 as a risk locus for both peanut and food allergy. Multiple genes (c11orf30/EMSY, SKAP1 and CTNNA3) identified by this study are involved in epigenetic regulation of gene expression.

Pub.: 17 Oct '17, Pinned: 19 Oct '17

Increase in anaphylaxis-related hospitalizations but no increase in fatalities: an analysis of United Kingdom national anaphylaxis data, 1992-2012.

Abstract: The incidence of anaphylaxis might be increasing. Data for fatal anaphylaxis are limited because of the rarity of this outcome.We sought to document trends in anaphylaxis admissions and fatalities by age, sex, and cause in England and Wales over a 20-year period.We extracted data from national databases that record hospital admissions and fatalities caused by anaphylaxis in England and Wales (1992-2012) and crosschecked fatalities against a prospective fatal anaphylaxis registry. We examined time trends and age distribution for fatal anaphylaxis caused by food, drugs, and insect stings.Hospital admissions from all-cause anaphylaxis increased by 615% over the time period studied, but annual fatality rates remained stable at 0.047 cases (95% CI, 0.042-0.052 cases) per 100,000 population. Admission and fatality rates for drug- and insect sting-induced anaphylaxis were highest in the group aged 60 years and older. In contrast, admissions because of food-triggered anaphylaxis were most common in young people, with a marked peak in the incidence of fatal food reactions during the second and third decades of life. These findings are not explained by age-related differences in rates of hospitalization.Hospitalizations for anaphylaxis increased between 1992 and 2012, but the incidence of fatal anaphylaxis did not. This might be due to increasing awareness of the diagnosis, shifting patterns of behavior in patients and health care providers, or both. The age distribution of fatal anaphylaxis varies significantly according to the nature of the eliciting agent, which suggests a specific vulnerability to severe outcomes from food-induced allergic reactions in the second and third decades.

Pub.: 04 Dec '14, Pinned: 18 Oct '17

Allergen-encoding bone marrow transfer inactivates allergic T cell responses, alleviating airway inflammation.

Abstract: Memory Th2 cell responses underlie the development and perpetuation of allergic diseases. Because these states result from immune dysregulation, established Th2 cell responses represent a significant challenge for conventional immunotherapies. New approaches that overcome the detrimental effects of immune dysregulation are required. We tested whether memory Th2 cell responses were silenced using a therapeutic approach where allergen expression in DCs is transferred to sensitized recipients using BM cells as a vector for therapeutic gene transfer. Development of allergen-specific Th2 responses and allergen-induced airway inflammation was blocked by expression of allergen in DCs. Adoptive transfer studies showed that Th2 responses were inactivated by a combination of deletion and induction of T cell unresponsiveness. Transfer of BM encoding allergen expression targeted to DCs terminated, in an allergen-specific manner, Th2 responses in sensitized recipients. Importantly, when preexisting airway inflammation was present, there was effective silencing of Th2 cell responses, airway inflammation was alleviated, and airway hyperreactivity was reversed. The effectiveness of DC-targeted allergen expression to terminate established Th2 responses in sensitized animals indicates that exploiting cell-intrinsic T cell tolerance pathways could lead to development of highly effective immunotherapies.

Pub.: 02 Jun '17, Pinned: 18 Oct '17

Early consumption of peanuts in infancy is associated with a low prevalence of peanut allergy.

Abstract: Despite guidelines recommending avoidance of peanuts during infancy in the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, and, until recently, North America, peanut allergy (PA) continues to increase in these countries.We sought to determine the prevalence of PA among Israeli and UK Jewish children and evaluate the relationship of PA to infant and maternal peanut consumption.A clinically validated questionnaire determined the prevalence of PA among Jewish schoolchildren (5171 in the UK and 5615 in Israel). A second validated questionnaire assessed peanut consumption and weaning in Jewish infants (77 in the UK and 99 in Israel).The prevalence of PA in the UK was 1.85%, and the prevalence in Israel was 0.17% (P < .001). Despite accounting for atopy, the adjusted risk ratio for PA between countries was 9.8 (95% CI, 3.1-30.5) in primary school children. Peanut is introduced earlier and is eaten more frequently and in larger quantities in Israel than in the UK. The median monthly consumption of peanut in Israeli infants aged 8 to 14 months is 7.1 g of peanut protein, and it is 0 g in the UK (P < .001). The median number of times peanut is eaten per month was 8 in Israel and 0 in the UK (P < .0001).We demonstrate that Jewish children in the UK have a prevalence of PA that is 10-fold higher than that of Jewish children in Israel. This difference is not accounted for by differences in atopy, social class, genetic background, or peanut allergenicity. Israeli infants consume peanut in high quantities in the first year of life, whereas UK infants avoid peanuts. These findings raise the question of whether early introduction of peanut during infancy, rather than avoidance, will prevent the development of PA.

Pub.: 13 Nov '08, Pinned: 17 Oct '17

Effect of Avoidance on Peanut Allergy after Early Peanut Consumption.

Abstract: In a randomized trial, the early introduction of peanuts in infants at high risk for allergy was shown to prevent peanut allergy. In this follow-up study, we investigated whether the rate of peanut allergy remained low after 12 months of peanut avoidance among participants who had consumed peanuts during the primary trial (peanut-consumption group), as compared with those who had avoided peanuts (peanut-avoidance group).At the end of the primary trial, we instructed all the participants to avoid peanuts for 12 months. The primary outcome was the percentage of participants with peanut allergy at the end of the 12-month period, when the participants were 72 months of age.We enrolled 556 of 628 eligible participants (88.5%) from the primary trial; 550 participants (98.9%) had complete primary-outcome data. The rate of adherence to avoidance in the follow-up study was high (90.4% in the peanut-avoidance group and 69.3% in the peanut-consumption group). Peanut allergy at 72 months was significantly more prevalent among participants in the peanut-avoidance group than among those in the peanut-consumption group (18.6% [52 of 280 participants] vs. 4.8% [13 of 270], P<0.001). Three new cases of allergy developed in each group, but after 12 months of avoidance there was no significant increase in the prevalence of allergy among participants in the consumption group (3.6% [10 of 274 participants] at 60 months and 4.8% [13 of 270] at 72 months, P=0.25). Fewer participants in the peanut-consumption group than in the peanut-avoidance group had high levels of Ara h2 (a component of peanut protein)-specific IgE and peanut-specific IgE; in addition, participants in the peanut-consumption group continued to have a higher level of peanut-specific IgG4 and a higher peanut-specific IgG4:IgE ratio.Among children at high risk for allergy in whom peanuts had been introduced in the first year of life and continued until 5 years of age, a 12-month period of peanut avoidance was not associated with an increase in the prevalence of peanut allergy. Longer-term effects are not known. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others; LEAP-On ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01366846.).

Pub.: 05 Mar '16, Pinned: 17 Oct '17

Neonatal exposure to pneumococcal phosphorylcholine modulates the development of house dust mite allergy during adult life.

Abstract: Currently, ∼20% of the global population suffers from an allergic disorder. Allergies and asthma occur at higher rates in developed and industrialized countries. It is clear that many human atopic diseases are initiated neonatally and herald more severe IgE-mediated disorders, including allergic asthma, which is driven by the priming of Th2 effector T cells. The hygiene hypothesis attempts to link the increased excessively sanitary conditions early in life to a default Th2 response and increasing allergic phenomena. Despite the substantial involvement of IgE Abs in such conditions, little attention has been paid to the effects of early microbial exposure on the B cell repertoire prior to the initiation of these diseases. In this study, we use Ab-binding assays to demonstrate that Streptococcus pneumoniae and house dust mite (HDM) bear similar phosphorylcholine (PC) epitopes. Neonatal C57BL/6 mice immunized with a PC-bearing pneumococcal vaccine expressed increased frequencies of PC-specific B cells in the lungs following sensitizing exposure to HDM as adults. Anti-PC IgM Abs in the lung decreased the interaction of HDM with pulmonary APCs and were affiliated with lowered allergy-associated cell infiltration into the lung, IgE production, development of airway hyperresponsiveness, and Th2 T cell priming. Thus, exposure of neonatal mice to PC-bearing pneumococci significantly reduced the development of HDM-induced allergic disease during adult life. Our findings demonstrate that B cells generated against conserved epitopes expressed by bacteria, encountered early in life, are also protective against the development of allergic disease during adult life.

Pub.: 10 May '15, Pinned: 01 Jul '17

The Neonatal CD8+ T Cell Repertoire Rapidly Diversifies during Persistent Viral Infection.

Abstract: CMV is the most common congenital infection in the United States. The major target of congenital CMV is the brain, with clinical manifestations including mental retardation, vision impairment, and sensorineural hearing loss. Previous reports have shown that CD8(+) T cells are required to control viral replication and significant numbers of CMV-specific CD8(+) T cells persist in the brain even after the initial infection has been cleared. However, the dynamics of CD8(+) T cells in the brain during latency remain largely undefined. In this report, we used TCR sequencing to track the development and maintenance of neonatal clonotypes in the brain and spleen of mice during chronic infection. Given the discontinuous nature of tissue-resident memory CD8(+) T cells, we hypothesized that neonatal TCR clonotypes would be locked in the brain and persist into adulthood. Surprisingly, we found that the Ag-specific T cell repertoire in neonatal-infected mice diversified during persistent infection in both the brain and spleen, while maintaining substantial similarity between the CD8(+) T cell populations in the brain and spleen in both early and late infection. However, despite the diversification of, and potential interchange between, the spleen and brain Ag-specific T cell repertoires, we observed that germline-encoded TCR clonotypes, characteristic of neonatal infection, persisted in the brain, albeit sometimes in low abundance. These results provide valuable insights into the evolution of CD8(+) T cell repertoires following neonatal CMV infection and thus have important implications for the development of therapeutic strategies to control CMV in early life.

Pub.: 15 Jan '16, Pinned: 30 Jun '17

"Default" generation of neonatal regulatory T cells.

Abstract: CD4(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T (Treg) cells were shown to control all aspects of immune responses. How these Treg cells develop is not fully defined, especially in neonates during development of the immune system. We studied the induction of Treg cells from neonatal T cells with various TCR stimulatory conditions, because TCR stimulation is required for Treg cell generation. Independent of the types of TCR stimulus and without the addition of exogenous TGF-beta, up to 70% of neonatal CD4(+)Foxp3(-) T cells became CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Treg cells, whereas generally <10% of adult CD4(+)Foxp3(-) T cells became CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Treg cells under the same conditions. These neonatal Treg cells exert suppressive function and display relatively stable Foxp3 expression. Importantly, this ability of Treg cell generation gradually diminishes within 2 wk of birth. Consistent with in vitro findings, the in vivo i.p. injection of anti-CD3 mAb to stimulate T cells also resulted in a >3-fold increase in Treg cells in neonates but not in adults. Furthermore, neonatal or adult Foxp3(-) T cells were adoptively transferred into Rag1(-/-) mice. Twelve days later, the frequency of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) T cells converted from neonatal cells was 6-fold higher than that converted from adult cells. Taken together, neonatal CD4(+) T cells have an intrinsic "default" mechanism to become Treg cells in response to TCR stimulations. This finding provides intriguing implications about neonatal immunity, Treg cell generation, and tolerance establishment early in life.

Pub.: 26 May '10, Pinned: 01 Jul '17

Early-life compartmentalization of human T cell differentiation and regulatory function in mucosal and lymphoid tissues.

Abstract: It is unclear how the immune response in early life becomes appropriately stimulated to provide protection while also avoiding excessive activation as a result of diverse new antigens. T cells are integral to adaptive immunity; mouse studies indicate that tissue localization of T cell subsets is important for both protective immunity and immunoregulation. In humans, however, the early development and function of T cells in tissues remain unexplored. We present here an analysis of lymphoid and mucosal tissue T cells derived from pediatric organ donors in the first two years of life, as compared to adult organ donors, revealing early compartmentalization of T cell differentiation and regulation. Whereas adult tissues contain a predominance of memory T cells, in pediatric blood and tissues the main subset consists of naive recent thymic emigrants, with effector memory T cells (T(EM)) found only in the lungs and small intestine. Additionally, regulatory T (T(reg)) cells comprise a high proportion (30-40%) of CD4(+) T cells in pediatric tissues but are present at much lower frequencies (1-10%) in adult tissues. Pediatric tissue T(reg) cells suppress endogenous T cell activation, and early T cell functionality is confined to the mucosal sites that have the lowest T(reg):T(EM) cell ratios, which suggests control in situ of immune responses in early life.

Pub.: 15 Dec '15, Pinned: 30 Jun '17