The research of Wai Kee Eddie (W K Eddie) Ip, Ph.D., evolves from long-standing interests in the innate immune mechanisms that regulate inflammation, immunity and tissue homeostasis. Defects in this innate immune regulation can lead to failures in the host defense against pathogens and the control of tissue inflammation, resulting in infections and inflammatory diseases.
Cellular metabolism is key to regulating the development and function of innate immune cells including macrophages. The laboratory of Dr. Ip combines genetic, biochemical and cell biological approaches to investigate the metabolic regulation of macrophage functional polarization from both cell and tissue biology perspectives.
- Regulation of macrophage function by metabolic transporters. Metabolic reprogramming is controlled by external signals that direct the uptake, storage and utilization of substrates. In macrophages, the substrate uptake largely relies on transporters that move specific substrates across hydrophobic lipid membranes. Dr. Ip's lab is investigating metabolic transporters that are key to regulating the functional polarization of macrophages in response to inflammatory triggers associated with microbial infections.
- Metabolic regulation of intestinal tissue-resident macrophage function. The intestine contains the largest population of macrophages in the body, which is not only a key component of host defense against pathogens but also essential for constant epithelial renewal and the maintenance of mucosal homeostasis in contact with microbiota. Dysregulation of macrophage function in intestinal tissue can lead to uncontrolled tissue inflammation that cause diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Dr. Ip's lab is investigating the cellular metabolism in intestinal tissue-resident macrophages and its impact on mucosal immunity and tissue homeostasis.
Significance to patient care
Both infectious and inflammatory diseases are great challenges for public health and represent major burdens on health care resources. Macrophages, the innate immune cells found in all bodily tissues, are critical for the host defense against infectious agents and the maintenance of tissue homeostasis. Dr. Ip's lab is investigating the metabolic regulation of macrophage functions, which will help uncover new molecular targets for treating infectious diseases and diseases involving aberrant tissue inflammation, including IBD.