King Lab 2014 (320x240)
(Left to right) Kamilla Josefsdottir, Katie Matatall, Claudine Kadmon, Katherine King

Bone marrow suppression and pancytopenia can result from chronic inflammation. Bone marrow suppression is a risk factor for increased mortality for patients with chronic infections14-17 and aplastic anemia18-21. However, very little is known about the mechanisms by which inflammatory cytokines affect the hematopoietic progenitors that reside in bone marrow. We discovered that interferon gamma (IFNγ) promotes hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) division and myeloid differentiation in a mouse model of Mycobacterium avium infection1. While this response can be helpful in the short term, it may be deleterious over the long term, with prolonged inflammation leading to stem cell exhaustion2.

Work in our laboratory is focused on identifying the mechanisms by which the inflammatory cytokine IFNγ affects proliferation, differentiation, and mobilization of HSCs. We have previously demonstrated that interferons, a class of inflammatory cytokines, directly activate hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to divide (Nature 2010). HSCs are the precursors of all cells of the peripheral blood, and they usually reside in a quiescent state in the bone marrow. Our work is among the first to demonstrate that inflammatory signaling can directly activate HSCs. Impaired quiescence mechanisms during long-term interferon stimulation result in differentiation and exhaustion of the HSC pool (Blood 2011, Stem Cells 2014). This knowledge is a key to understanding the pathophysiology of bone marrow failure syndromes and will likely provide novel targets for drug development. Furthermore, this work may elucidate how cancer stem cells respond to immunotherapies, as well as how infections can contribute to aging and oncogenesis.

See a list and descriptions of our current projects.

Current Featured Work

Assistant professor of pediatrics - infectious disease Dr. Katherine King and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Katie Matatall discuss their work revealing that long-lasting infections trigger the loss of stem cells. The study appears in Cell Reports.

Press Release

Scientists find persistent infections in mice exhaust progenitors of all blood cells; potential treatment possibleDec 6, 2016
Mouse model reveal that long-lasting infections trigger the loss of progenitors of blood cells and suggest a strategy that may help prevent or treat this condition in the future.