Environmental Contributors to Autoimmune Disease: Mechanisms, Impacts, and Chemicals of Concern
1:00 pm US Eastern Time
Sarah J. Blossom
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Nyland JF, Fairweather D, et al. Low-Dose Inorganic Mercury Increases Severity and Frequency of Chronic Coxsackievirus-Induced Autoimmune Myocarditis in Mice. Toxicological Sciences. 2012 Jan; 125(1): 134–143.
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More than 80 diseases occur as a result of the immune system attacking the body’s own organs, tissues, and cells. Some of the more common autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and inflammatory bowel disease. Autoimmune diseases collectively affect more than 23.5 million Americans today, and they are becoming increasingly prevalent (NIH).
Although the causes of many autoimmune diseases are unknown, a person’s genes in combination with infections and other environmental exposures are likely to play a significant role in disease development. In this webinar, Dr. Sarah J. Blossom, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, will discuss the topic of autoimmunity by highlighting factors and biological mechanisms by which environmental factors (e.g., toxicant exposures) disrupt the immune system so as to initiate or exacerbate autoimmunity and autoimmune disease. Dr. Jennifer Nyland, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the Henson Honors Program in Science and Mathematics at Salisbury University, will specifically discuss the impacts of mercury, which we are all exposed to at low levels from many different products almost daily. While the neurotoxicity of mercury at high doses has been known for some time, there is now a growing body of research supporting the immunotoxic nature of mercury at low dose exposures. Dr. Nyland will present data demonstrating the role of mercury in modulating the immune response, particularly as it pertains to autoimmunity.
Sarah J. Blossom, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She conducts research at the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her research focuses on how the organic solvent and industrial chemical, trichloroethylene, impacts CD4+ T cell epigenetic effects to promote hypersensitivity and autoimmunity.
Jennifer F. Nyland, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the Henson Honors Program in Science and Mathematics at Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD. She is a chemist (Cornell University, BA), immunologist (SUNY Upstate Medical University, PhD), and immunotoxicologist (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, post-doctoral fellowship) with research interests in these areas. Dr. Nyland’s research focuses on the impacts of metals exposures on the immune system. Specifically, her lab utilizes in vitro cell culture studies, in vivo mouse models of infection and autoimmune disease, and epidemiological studies to explore the impacts of environmentally-relevant mercury and arsenic exposure on mechanisms of immune modulation and disease progression.
This webinar will be moderated by Sarah Howard, MS, Founder and Manager, DiabetesandEnvironment.org. It will last for 45 minutes and will be recorded for our call and webinar archive.