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Blomberg Lab

Immune Regulation: Effects of Aging, Inflammation, and Obesity

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Investigator / Contact Person Bonnie Blomberg

Research

Dr. Blomberg's laboratory studies how aging and obesity affect the immune and vaccine responses in mice and humans. They have developed molecular biomarkers for optimal B lymphocyte function, which decrease with age. These include the transcription factor E47, AID (activation-induced cytidine deaminase), and IgG class switch recombination (CSR). They have found these to correlate with an optimal influenza vaccine response in humans and to be decreased in the elderly. They have also shown that inflammation systemically (serum) and in unstimulated B cells increases with age in mice and humans and negatively affects their function. These studies have recently extended to contributors to inflammation including obesity and mechanisms for antibody and B cell function generated in adipose tissue. Recently they have shown that adipocytes in the human obese subcutaneous adipose tissue (AT) are highly inflammatory and secrete several pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, which contribute to the establishment and maintenance of local and systemic inflammation, which likely contributes to the suboptimal immune responses in obese individuals they have previously shown. They are currently investigating the autoimmune nature of the antibodies made in AT.

In collaboration with Dr. M. Antoni here, Dr. Blomberg's team found decreased inflammation, improved immune measures, and increased survival in breast cancer patients doing CBSM (cognitive behavioral stress management). Recently they found that higher levels of “social well-being” (SWB) (satisfaction with social resources) related to less leukocyte pro-inflammatory and pro-metastatic gene expression. The importance for cancer is that SWB has also been shown to relate to better adaptation and longer survival after breast cancer diagnosis and these studies offer potential improvement for cancer patients through contributions either to psychological or immunological approaches. They are also collaborating with Dr. F. Penedo here on prostate cancer for similar measures, and They also have a project on Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) to study the contribution of the enzyme AID and inflammation.

Dr. Bonnie Blomberg earned her BA in Biology and Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of California, San Diego, then completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Basel Institute for Technology in Switzerland and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Cancer Research before joining the faculty of the University of Miami in 1983. She is currently a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.