Laura Sly

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Intravenous immunoglobulin skews macrophages to an anti-inflammatory, IL-10 producing activation state (2019)

Macrophages initiate the immune response and contribute to the inflammation that characterizes many diseases. Macrophages play an equally important role in turning off the inflammatory response, by producing the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) is a drug made up of pooled polyclonal IgGs, which is used to treat immune-mediated diseases. However, its mechanism of action is not completely understood. We found that IVIg induced high production of IL-10 and low production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by murine bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an inflammatory stimulus. MAPKs, Erk5, Erk1/2, and p38, were activated by co-stimulation with IVIg and LPS and their activation was required for IL-10 production. In vivo, murine peritoneal macrophages also produced high levels of IL-10 and low levels of IL-12/23p40 when treated with IVIg + LPS. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterized by chronic inflammation of the intestine. IVIg-treated macrophages or IVIg treatment ameliorated intestinal inflammation in mice during dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis. Moreover, IVIg-induced macrophage IL-10 production was required for IVIg-mediated protection. In human monocytes, IVIg also increased IL-10 production and reduced pro-inflammatory cytokine production in response to LPS. IVIg-induced IL-10 production required the FcγRI and FcγRIIB as well as activation of MAPKs, ERK1/2 and p38. An FcγRIIA gene variant predisposes people to develop immune-mediated diseases, such as IBD, and has been linked to a failure to respond to antibody therapy. The FcγRIIA disease risk variant changes this receptor from a low to a high affinity receptor. My results demonstrated that IVIg-induced anti-inflammatory responses were compromised in monocytes from people with the FcγRIIA risk variant. Together, these results describe a novel mechanism of action for IVIg, the induction of anti-inflammatory, IL-10 producing macrophages. IVIg may provide an effective therapeutic option to treat people with IBD. However, induction of this anti-inflammatory activation state may be impaired in monocytes from people with the disease-associated FcγRIIA gene variant. In summary, understanding IVIg’s mechanism of action may inform new applications, prompt development of new therapeutic strategies for immune-mediated diseases, and identify individuals for whom IVIg will be most effective.

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SHIP deficiency is associated with the Crohn’s disease susceptibility variant in ATG16L1 and leads to increased interleukin-1beta transcription and intestinal autoinflammation (2016)

Crohn`s disease (CD) is a polygenic immune-mediated disease of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by chronic inflammation. The SH2-domain-containing inositol polyphosphate 5΄phosphatase (SHIP) is a hematopoietic-specific negative regulator of inflammatory cytokine production and plays an important role in regulating immune homeostasis. Using the SHIP deficient mouse model of intestinal inflammation, we found that IL-1β is increased in SHIP-/- mouse macrophages due to increased class I PI3K p110α activity. Macrophage depletion or treatment with an IL-1 receptor antagonist reduced development of intestinal inflammation in SHIP-/- mice. To interrogate if SHIP is dysregulated in people with ileal CD, we demonstrate that subjects with ileal CD have reduced SHIP mRNA expression and enzymatic activity at sites of inflammation and in PBMCs, compared to control subjects. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the gene encoding ATG16L1 (T300A) causes an autophagy defect and is associated with increased IL-1β production and susceptibility to CD. In all tissues from our patient cohort and in PBMCs from a second healthy control cohort, subjects, who were homozygous for the CD-associated ATG16L1 T300A encoding gene variant, had reduced SHIP mRNA expression and enzymatic activity, which correlated with increased IL-1β production. In addition, starvation-induced autophagy increased SHIP protein levels, which were reduced in the presence of the ATG16L1 CD-associated risk allele. Examining the effects of additional autophagy and CD-related gene variants, which may affect SHIP mRNA expression and enzymatic activity, on IL-1β production in PBMCs from a cohort of healthy control subjects, we found that the NOD2 rs2066844 and the XBP-1 rs35873774 gene variants were associated with increased IL-1β production in response to specific PAMPs.Collectively, these data identify SHIP up-regulation as a novel mechanism by which autophagy regulates IL-1β production and intestinal autoinflammation. Our findings also identify a subgroup of CD patients that could be amenable to treatment with therapy that targets IL-1β.

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Alternatively activated macrophages protect mice during induced intestinal inflammation (2013)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an idiopathic disease characterized by chronic intestinalinflammation and ulceration. Canada has the highest incidence of IBD in the world with 1 in150 people affected. While treatment options target symptoms and attempt to dampen downinflammation, an increasing population of patients is refractory to current therapeuticoptions. Macrophages are heterogeneous in their functions and while it is clear thatinflammatory macrophages contribute to inflammation in IBD, multiple lines of evidencesuggest that alternatively activated macrophages may offer protection during intestinalinflammation. In vivo SHIP deficient mouse macrophages are alternatively activated soSHIP deficient mice provide a unique genetic model of alternative macrophage activation.Using the dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced model of colitis, I found that SHIP-/- miceare protected during induced intestinal inflammation, the protection is macrophage mediated,and can be conferred to a susceptible host. To determine how SHIP contributes to alternativeactivation of macrophages, I demonstrate that SHIP-deficient murine macrophages are moresensitive to IL-4-mediated skewing to an alternatively activated phenotype. Moreover, SHIPlevels are reduced in alternatively activated macrophages and this is required for alternativeactivation because it is dependent on PI3K activity. Arginase (ArgI) induction is specificallydependent on the PI3Kp110δ isoform of class IA PI3K. As such, mice deficient inPI3Kp110δ catalytic subunit activity have increased clinical disease activity and histologicaldamage during DSS-induced colitis. Colitis severity correlates with reduced numbers ofArgI+ M2 macrophages in the colon, increased nitric oxide production, and is macrophagedependent.Importantly, adoptive transfer of IL-4-treated macrophages from wild type mice,but not from PI3Kp110δ deficient mice, protects mice during DSS-induced colitis. Protection is lost when mice are treated with inhibitors that block arginase activity showing that ArgI activity is required for M2 macrophage-mediated protection from intestinal inflammation. These findings identify SHIP and the PI3K pathway as critical regulators of alternative macrophage activation and as potential targets for manipulation in IBD. In addition, adoptive transfer of alternatively activated macrophages to patients with IBD also offers a promising, new strategy for treatment that may be particularly useful in patients who are refractory to conventional therapies.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
SHIP-microbiome interactions in intestinal inflammation (2018)

No abstract available.

PI3Kp110δ drives Crohn’s disease-like intestinal fibrosis in SHIP-/- mice (2017)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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