Tokyo University of Science
Univ of Tokyo Inst of Medical Science

Noda-shi, Chiba
Japan

Dr. Aoi Akitsu is an immunologist and a postdoctoral fellow at Tokyo University of Science, Japan. Her research has been focused on the cellular and molecular mechanism of the development of autoimmune diseases. She has been in Prof. Y. Iwakura’s lab throughout her research career.

She received her Ph. D from University of Tokyo for work on the pathogenesis of IL-17-producing innate-like cells, such as gd T cells and innate lymphoid cells, in autoimmune diseases. She found that IL-17-producing gd T cells play a crucial role in the development of arthritis in IL-1Ra KO mice, a good model for rheumatoid arthritis. She also found that activated CD4+ T cells directed gd T cell infiltration into joints, in a chemokine-dependent manner. These findings provide significant conceptual advances into the pathogenic mechanisms in which the cross talk between adaptive and innate immunity causes the development of autoimmune diseases in a coordinated manner.

In addition, she has found that Rag2 KO-IL-1Ra KO mice spontaneously develop colitis with a high mortality. She has demonstrated that excess IL-1 signaling and IL-1-induced IL-17 production, which is induced by innate lymphoid cells, have important roles in the pathogenesis of colitis in these mice in which Treg cells are absent.

While she was Ph.D. student, based on her accomplishments, she was accepted as a research fellow supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.