de Vallejo Lab

The laboratory of Dr. de Vallejo is located on the 7th floor of the Rangos Research Center (main lab phone # 412-692-9571) and is closely allied to the Rangos Flow Cytometry Facility (flow1core@chp.edu) where he serves as scientific director. The lab is engaged in bench research with primary pursuit of scientific questions with direct relevance to human health. As such, the majority of the lab's research activities involve cohort studies where we have active collaborations with clinicians and other bench researchers. The lab also conducts “human-to-mouse” translation to further interrogate particular biological processes in mouse model(s) that have direct relevance to human biology.

Research Programs

We have two complementary research areas. The first is on the Biology of Inflammatory Syndromes. A particular interest is the role of premature aging of immune cells in the pathophysiology of autoimmune rheumatic diseases. This is a pursuit based our discovery that a large number of T cells in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and adult-onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are terminally differentiated and remain functionally active but detached from the specificity control of the T cell receptor. This pursuit represents a paradigm shift away from self-reactivity paradigm, which is based mostly on animal studies but has been difficult to prove as the driver of systemic autoimmune diseases such JIA and RA. Additional inflammation-related research areas are childhood obesity and metabolic disorders.

The second area of research is on the Integrative Physiology of Successful Aging, a physiologic construct that is an antithesis to the traditional paradigm of age-related cumulative loss of function. This is a pursuit based on our initial discovery that elders (aged 75 years) with high physical and cognitive ability have unique immune cell repertoire consisting of senescent no-dividing cells but functionally competent immune effectors. Thus, a particular interest is whether and how functional plasticity of the aged immune repertoire connects with physical and neurocognitive domains of function in determining a trajectory towards healthy longevity, in contrast to frailty, functional impairment, and chronic ill-health in the later years of life.

Current projects include:

  • Distinguishing mechanism(s) of immune cell senescence in rheumatic diseases from normal chronologic aging
  • Inflammatory circuit(s) of synovitis
  • Immune-neurocognitive interactions underlying successful aging
  • Novel immune effector mechanisms in successful aging
  • Immunology of frailty
  • Inflammatory/immune processes in metabolic disorders of children
  • Modeling the immune dimension of lifespan extension in mice

Lab Members

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