September 18, 2015
co-sponsored with the Immunobiology Graduate Program
“Human Intestinal Epithelial Response to Gastrointestinal Virus Infection Using Enteroids”
Department of Molecular Virology & Microbiology
A limitation in translational research in the gastrointestinal tract has been the absence of models that recapitulate the diverse nature of the intestinal epithelium. Recently, human intestinal enteroids (HIEs) have been established and contain the normal complement of epithelial cell types (stem, enterocyte, goblet, enteroendocrine, and Paneth cells). We have utilized HIE cultures as pre-clinical models to study the response of the epithelium to common enteric viral pathogens such as human rotavirus (HRV), which kills nearly 500,000 children annually by causing dehydrating gastroenteritis. Studies on HRVs have been limited because they are difficult to culture in transformed cell lines and do not infect small animals. HRVs predominately infect and replicate in the mature enterocytes in the small intestine.
Dr. Blutt’s research interests center on the gastrointestinal tract and understanding changes that occur within the epithelium and to the underlying immune system in the context of pathogenic viral infections and in response to the local populations of commensal bacteria. Her projects focus on using molecular and cellular techniques in both in vitro and in vivo model systems to address the overall hypothesis that microbes are a significant component of gastrointestinal health. Dr. Blutt is trained as a cell biologist and immunologist, and currently uses her expertise to study mucosal immunology and pathogenesis. She participates in the Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center, and is a member of the Pediatric Gastroenterology Training at Baylor College of Medicine. Some of her work has centered on understanding the effects of the commensal organisms on the pathogenesis, and immune response to rotavirus infection, a common viral pathogen that infects the small intestine. She is currently using the human enteroids as a model of the gastrointestinal epithelium focusing on the response of stem cells to pathogenic infection and establishing in vitromodels to study both small intestinal and liver physiology.