The Lawrence Lab addresses the biochemical and molecular analysis of the human and murine immune-neuroendocrine network with specific emphasis on the mechanisms by which chemicals and drugs alter the structure/function of antigen-presenting cells and the T-lymphocyte subsets responsible for maintenance of the immune homeostasis (controlled cell-mediated and humoral (antibody-mediated) immune responses). The lymphocyte subsets are investigated to assess the qualitative and quantitative subcellular changes that occur with cell activation, growth, differentiation, functional responses, and cell death/apoptosis.
We are especially concerned with the influence of oxidative stress from environmental toxicants and pathogens as well as developmental aging stresses on immune responsiveness. Modulations of immune responses by exogenous (environmental and dietary factors) and endogenous (hormonal and neural factors) regulators that can increase or decrease the incidence of infectious diseases, cancers and autoimmune diseases are being investigated along with the molecular genetic mechanisms responsible for the bidirectional generation of cytokines and neuropeptides by the immune system and the central nervous system. An understanding of interorgan as well as lymphoid subset molecular communications is integral to unraveling how the immune-neuroendocrine network controls health. Our in vivo and in vitro models are designed to determine the mechanisms of the neuroendocrine immune network. Current funded research is focused on the immune mechanisms responsible for the developmental disorders such as autism.