Maria E. C. Bruno
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
University of Kentucky, USA
Dr. Bruno is a Research Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Kentucky, College of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. in Food Science from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and continued her post-doctoral studies at Rutgers University, Florida State University and the University of Kentucky in biochemistry, cell biology and immunology. She has published a number of research papers and review articles in the area of food microbiology, cell biology and immunology. Her research has been funded by grants from the NIH and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Dr. Bruno’s current research is focused on understanding the biological mechanisms underlying intestinal homeostasis and their dysregulation in disease states, such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and IBD-associated colon cancer.
Secretory IgA (SIgA) antibodies are the most abundant immunoglobulins in gut secretions, where they contribute to maintenance of intestinal homeostasis by neutralizing pathogens, preventing inappropriate inflammatory responses to microbial and food antigens, and shaping the composition of the commensal microbiota. Transport of locally synthesized IgA across intestinal epithelial cells into the lumen is mediated by the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR). In a healthy human, pIgR delivers up to 3g/day of SIgA into the gut. Our research focuses on understanding the regulatory mechanisms of pIgR function in health and disease. Recently, we have been investigating the role of pIgR on the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and IBD-associated colon cancer. To accomplish this goal, we use human intestinal biopsies and/or surgical samples, cell lines and several genetic mouse models. Our long-term goal is to increase our understanding of immune mechanisms that regulate intestinal homeostasis and inflammation, and to develop novel approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of IBD.