Glucocorticoids are produced by the adrenal glands, especially in response to stressors, and circulate in the blood to coordinate the stress response. Additionally, glucocorticoids are locally produced in immune organs and are critical in the production of functional, competent lymphocytes (a type of immune cell). We study how local glucocorticoid production occurs and is regulated, as well as how these locally-produced glucocorticoids influence immunity.
Several of the specific topics that we are addressing include 1) how different environmental conditions (e.g. microbes) affect immune glucocorticoid production, 2) how different glucocorticoids (corticosterone versus cortisol) are produced and act in immune tissues, and 3) how glucocorticoids regulate immune cell development, especially in early life when circulating glucocorticoids are extremely low. Each of these processes is important in understanding how the external environment, especially in early life, has long-term programming effects on the immune system.
We welcome collaborations on these topics, especially for steroid analyses by ultrasensitive LC-MS/MS in lymphoid organs (thymus, bone marrow, spleen).
Specific studies on immunosteroids have been supported by various organizations, including NSERC, CIHR, CFI, and BCKDF.