An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Defu Zeng Lab

We are dissecting the mechanisms whereby mixed chimerism reverses autoimmunity. We are also tracing the origin of beta cell regeneration after reversal of autoimmunity.
Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a curative therapy for hematological malignancies and hereditary disorders as well as refractory autoimmune diseases. Induction of mixed chimerism via allogeneic HCT is also one of the most reliable approaches for induction of organ transplantation tolerance. However, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a major obstacle in classical HCT, in which recipients are required to be conditioned with total body irradiation (TBI) or high dose chemotherapy in order to allow donor stem cell engraftment. Recent studies have shown that tissue damage and activation of tissue dendritic cells caused by conditioning TBI or chemotherapy plays a critical role in induction of GVHD.
 
One of the research projects in the Zeng lab is to understand the pathogenesis of GVHD, in which donor T cells infiltrate the target tissues and mediate damage. Based on the clinical features, GVHD can be divided into acute and chronic GVHD. New immunosuppressants have been effective in preventing acute but not chronic GVHD. The latter remains the major cause of morbidity and mortality of long-term survivors of classical HCT, and there has been no improvement in treating chronic GVHD over the past three decades, due to the poor understanding of its pathogenesis.
 
We have recently developed new mouse models of chronic GVHD that can reflect the pathogenesis in humans. We are currently dissecting the role of allo- and auto-reactive CD4+ T (Th1, Th2 and Th17), Treg cells, APCs (dendritic and B cells), as well as autoantibodies in the pathogenesis of chronic GVHD. We are currently testing whether depletion of donor CD4+ T cells and/or B cells early after HCT can prevent chronic GVHD. These studies will provide new insights into chronic GVHD pathogenesis and lead to the development of novel therapies for patients.
 
Another project is to develop a radiation-free GVHD preventative conditioning regimen for induction of mixed chimerism for the therapy of autoimmune diseases (i.e. type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and lupus). We have observed that induction of mixed chimerism results in reversal of autoimmunity, elimination of insulitis, and beta cell regeneration in overt diabetic NOD mice. We are dissecting the mechanisms whereby mixed chimerism reverses autoimmunity. We are also tracing the origin of beta cell regeneration after reversal of autoimmunity. Our studies will provide new insights into transplantation biology and promote the application of HCT as a curative therapy not only for patients with hematological malignancies but also for patients with variety of refractory autoimmune diseases.

Principal Investigator

Defu Zeng
Hematologist
Role: Principal Investigator
Research Focus: Transplantation immune tolerance: mixed chimerism
Beta cell regeneration in diabetic mice
GVHD and GVL effect

Principal Investigator

Defu Zeng
Hematologist
Role:Principal Investigator
Research Focus: Transplantation immune tolerance: mixed chimerism; Beta cell regeneration in diabetic mice; GVHD and GVL effect
Visiting Scientist
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. Candidate
Visiting Scientist
Research Associate
Research Associate
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. Candidate
Ph.D. Candidate
Ph.D. Candidate
Ph.D. Candidate
Ph.D. Candidate

Lab Publications

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Defu Zeng's Publications
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In the News

Scientist Defu Zeng is tackling graft-versus-host disease, a common side effect of bone marrow transplants, taking several tacks that include modulating T cells and fine-tuning specific proteins and antibodies.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) board awarded $5.74 million to City of Hope to fund a phase 1 clinical trial testing a novel blood stem cell transplantation procedure for adult patients with severe sickle cell disease (SCD).
City of Hope’s Defu Zeng, professor of diabetes immunology and hematopoietic cell transplantation and colleagues recently uncovered important information about the chronic GVHD.
An international team of researchers led by City of Hope’s Defu Zeng believe they may have found a way to prevent graft-versus host disease following stem cell transplants without sacrificing the transplants’ ability to fight leukemia and lymphoma.
City of Hope researchers believe they may have found a way to prevent graft-versus-host disease after stem cell transplants while retaining the transplants’ positive effects on fighting leukemia and lymphoma.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Here's a look at the past, present and future of this disease.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $2.2 million grant to help City of Hope researchers explore the underlying mechanisms of graft-versus-host disease, the leading cause of long-term sickness and death following transplantation of bone marrow cells from a donor.

Lab Location

Defu Zeng Lab
1500 East Duarte Road
Duarte, CA 91010
Ample Free Parking