Konstantina Alexandropoulos, PhD
- ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR | Medicine, Clinical Immunology
- ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR | Medicine, Liver Diseases
Research Topics:Autoimmunity, Cell Adhesion, Cell Motility, Chemokines, Chemotaxis, Epithelial Cells, Immunological Tolerance, Immunology, Inflammation, Integrins, Lipid Signaling, Migration, Protein Kinases, Signal Transduction, T Cells, Tolerance, Trafficking, Transplantation
Konstantina Alexandropoulos, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Department of Medicine/Division of Clinical Immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Head of the T-cell-mediated Autoimmunity and Inflammation Laboratory. Research in the laboratory focuses on understanding the mechanisms that regulate T cell tolerance and how disturbances in this process result in organ-specific autoimmunity. The laboratory has uncovered mechanisms that regulate T cell tolerance through elimination of autoreactive T cells in the thymus, as well as tolerogenic mechanisms that supress self-reactive T cells in peripheral organs. Ongoing collaborative projects are exploring how the gut microbiota regulates T cell self-reactivity and inflammation in the liver and colon. Studies in preclinical mouse models and human specimens are in progress to identify immune cell profiles that promote development of liver and colon autoimmune diseases, elucidate the mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and develop strategies to combat organ-specific autoimmune inflammation.
Multi-Disciplinary Training AreaImmunology [IMM]
PhD, City University of New York (CUNY)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Konstantina Alexandropoulos, PhD, is the Director of the T-cell Mediated Autoimmunity and Inflammation Laboratory. The laboratory focuses on elucidating several aspects of T cell physiology including T cell development, activation and trafficking under physiologic and disease conditions.
One major focus of our research is directed towards understanding the processes that cause aberrant T cell function and T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases exemplified by conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes. Under normal conditions, developing T cells in the thymus are educated not to attack the body's own tissues in a process known as T cell tolerance. T cell tolerance is exerted through two different mechanisms: a) elimination of mature, self-reactive T cells in the thymus (central tolerance); b) intrathymic generation of regulatory T cells which in peripheral tissues suppress the activity of self-reactive T cells that escape destruction in the thymus (peripheral tolerance). Establishment of both central and peripheral tolerance occurs in the thymus and is highly dependent on reciprocal interactions between developing T cells and the thymic epithelium, specifically medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs). Disruption of these interactions leads to aberrant elimination of autoreactive T cell clones, defective peripheral tolerance and autoimmunity, manifested as T cell-containing inflammatory infiltrates in and autoantibody production against peripheral tissues. We are currently using different mouse models with mutations that disrupt the development of mTECs to understand how disruption of thymic cross-talk between the medullary epithelium and T cells affects T cell development and autoimmunity.
Another area of research in the laboratory concentrates on elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate T cell activation and migration during the initiation and establishment of an immune response respectively. In these studies we are using knockout mice lacking expression of novel signaling proteins we previously characterized to study how these proteins regulate T cell activation, migration, and T cell-mediated immune responses under normal or inflammatory conditions. Our studies using mouse models coupled with molecular and biochemical approaches serve as a platform towards elucidating basic aspects of T cell physiology and are aimed towards identifying novel therapeutic targets to control the behavior of T cells in inflammation and autoimmunity.