Darren Lee, PhD

Department of Ophthalmology
Boston University School of Medicine
(617) 638-4526

Research Description:

Human autoimmune uveitis is the third leading cause of blindness in the United States and affects 2 million Americans. In order to better understand this disease the mouse model of human autoimmune uveitis, experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) is utilized. Untreated human autoimmune uveitis leads to permanent blindness, whereas disease in the mouse model resolves without further relapse. Mice that have recovered from EAU have regulatory immunity in the spleen. The importance of this regulatory immunity is to maintain suppression of uveitis. Therefore, understanding how this regulatory immunity develops and functions is of interest.

This post-EAU protective regulatory immunity requires a post-EAU Treg cell to be activated by a post-EAU antigen presenting cell (APC). Development of the post-EAU APC requires melanocortin 5 receptor (MC5r) expression on the antigen presenting cell. Recent data indicates that the adenosine 2A receptor (A2Ar) is also involved in the development of post-EAU regulatory immunity. Therefore, how MC5r and A2Ar mediate the induction of post-EAU regulatory immunity is of interest.

Selected Publications:

Lee DJ, Biros DJ, Taylor AW. Injection of an alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone expression plasmid is effective in suppressing experimental autoimmune uveitis. Int Immunopharmacol 2009: 9: 1079-1086. PMID: 19426838

Taylor AW and Lee D. Applications of the role of a-MSH in ocular immune privilege. In: Multiple Cellular Actions of Melanocortins and Their Potential as Therapeutic Agents. Ed. Catania A. 2010; 681: 143-149 PMID: 21222267

Taylor AW, Lee DJ. The alpha-Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone Induces conversion of effector T cells into Treg cells. Journal of Transplantation, vol. 2011, Article ID 246856, 7 pages, 2011. PMID: 21941624

Lee DJ, Taylor AW. Following EAU-recovery there is an associated MC5r-dependent APC induction of regulatory immunity in the spleen. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. 2011 Nov 17;52(12):8862-7. PMID:21989727