Jonathan Choy, Associate Professor
B.Sc., Simon Fraser University
Research InterestT cells are specialized cells of the immune system that protect host organisms from infection, but that also contribute to a wide array of human diseases when their responses become dysregulated. In the body, T cells circulate within blood and lymphatic vessels, both of which are lined by endothelium and supported by smooth muscle cells and pericytes. As such, there is intimate and constant interaction between vascular cells and T cells. Endothelial cells are the first cells contacted by T cells during the targeting of immune responses in peripheral tissues, and it is known that this interaction is important in immune-regulation. Research in my lab focuses on understanding how T cell responses are regulated by the endothelium, on the effects of T cell activation on blood vessel structure and function, and on potential technologies to manipulate this interaction for therapeutic benefit. This research has direct implications for understanding the causes of organ transplant rejection and immune-involved vascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and arteritis. Specific research directions in the laboratory focus on the following questions:
- How do soluble factors produced or influenced by the endothelium regulate the activation and function of T cells?
- How do cell surface proteins on the endothelium control the activation and function of T cells?
- How do effector molecules produced by T cells, such as cytokines and cytolytic proteins, affect the endothelium to cause vascular pathologies?
- How is T cell death regulated during organ transplantation?