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Research Interests

Research interests: Mechanisms underlying sex-related differences in autoimmune disease; meningeal inflammation and how it impacts CNS degenerative disease. Multiple Sclerosis, a CNS inflammatory disease, is the result of dysregulation of normally protective immune responses. In this disease, pathogenic immune cells gain access to the brain and spinal cord and the ensuing inflammation causes damage to myelinated nerves. Our laboratory studies how certain classes of innate immune cells, particularly mast cells and innate lymphoid cells, promote Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a CNS demyelinating disease, regulate these aberrant responses. Using a rodent model of MS, Experimental autoimmune/allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), our work has shown that mast cells in the meninges are activated early in this disease and promote the opening of the blood brain barrier (BBB), vasculature that is relatively impermeable and normally sequesters the CNS from the entry of inflammatory cells. Current studies are focused on understanding how meningeal mast cells influence these events. In the process, we have established a new paradigm for the mast cell mediated inflammation of the meninges in immunity. A second line of research investigates the basis for sex-determined differences in MS. It is well established that females show a 3:1 higher incidence and distinct disease presentation than men. Using a mouse model of disease that recapitulates this sex dimorphism in susceptibility, we are studying the role of hormones in altering the immune responses that exacerbate disease in females and protect from disease in males.

Training Experience

1987Fellowship, National Institutes of Health

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Washington

… → 1983

Research interests

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Autoimmunity
  • Immune Regulation
  • Immune System
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Melissa Ann Brown is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 10 Similar Profiles
Mast Cells Medicine & Life Sciences
Interleukin-4 Medicine & Life Sciences
T-Lymphocytes Medicine & Life Sciences
Autoimmune Experimental Encephalomyelitis Medicine & Life Sciences
Meninges Medicine & Life Sciences
Multiple Sclerosis Medicine & Life Sciences
Autoimmunity Medicine & Life Sciences
Genes Medicine & Life Sciences

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Grants 2004 2022

Mast Cells
Sex Characteristics
Androgen Receptors
Autoimmune Diseases
Medical Faculties
Clinical Competence
National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
Multiple Sclerosis
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit

Research Output 1985 2019

2 Citations (Scopus)

An inconvenient variable: Sex hormones and their impact on T Cell responses

Brown, M. A. & Su, M. A., Jan 1 2019, In : Journal of Immunology. 202, 7, p. 1927-1933 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Gonadal Steroid Hormones
Sex Characteristics
Therapeutic Uses
Stromal Cells
19 Citations (Scopus)

Male-specific IL-33 expression regulates sex-dimorphic EAE susceptibility

Russi, A. E., Ebel, M. E., Yang, Y. & Brown, M. A., Feb 13 2018, In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115, 7, p. E1520-E1529

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Autoimmune Experimental Encephalomyelitis
Mast Cells
Central Nervous System Diseases
Myelin Sheath
Multiple Sclerosis
9 Citations (Scopus)

Mast cells and innate lymphoid cells: Underappreciated players in CNS autoimmune demyelinating disease

Brown, M. A. & Weinberg, R. B., Mar 21 2018, In : Frontiers in immunology. 9, MAR, 514.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

CNS Demyelinating Autoimmune Diseases
Mast Cells
Central Nervous System Diseases
Myelin Sheath

Studies of mast cells: Adventures in serendipity

Brown, M. A., Mar 13 2018, In : Frontiers in immunology. 9, MAR, 520.

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

Mast Cells
Allergy and Immunology
Transformed Cell Line
Exploratory Behavior
1 Citation (Scopus)

(T)Betting on innate lymphoid cells in CNS inflammatory disease

Brown, M. A. & Russi, A. E., Sep 19 2017, In : Nature Immunology. 18, 10, p. 1063-1064 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

Central Nervous System Diseases