Christopher Hunter

University of Pennsylvania

Distinguished Professor


The Hunter laboratory has several areas of research that center around understanding how the immune system deals with T. gondii. The first focuses on host pathogen interactions at the cellular level and how the parasite interacts with intracellular signaling pathways (NF-kB/JAK-STAT). In collaboration with the Roos laboratory, genetic approaches are being used to identify parasite factors that are involved in these events. This is part of work in progress which has used transgenic parasites to address fundamental questions about which cells are important in the initiation of adaptive immunity and the role of cross-presentation in the development of T cell responses. These latter studies compliment the work in the laboratory that has helped to define the cytokine networks that regulate the balance between protective and pathological immune responses and current studies focus on the IL-6 family of cytokines in these events. Lastly the laboratory is interested in better understanding the pathogenesis of toxoplasmic encephalitis (TE) in the immunocompromised patients who develop this disease. This work has also led the laboratory to try and apply what we have learned in TE to better understand the neuro-pathogenesis of African sleeping sickness.

Research Areas

Infectious Disease, Toxoplasma gondii, Zoonotic diseases, Host-pathogen interactions, Immunology, Parasites, Parasitology, Transgenic parasites, Inflammatory responses,


Passos, S. T., Silver, J. S., O’Hara, A., Sehy, D., Stumhofer, J. S., and Hunter, C. A. IL-6 promotes NK cell production of IL-17 during toxoplasmosis Journal Immunology 184: 1776-1783, 2010. Jordan, K. A., Wilson, E. H., Tait, E. D., Fox, B. A., Roos, D. S., Bzik, D. J., Dzierszinski, F., and Hunter, C. A. Kinetics and phenotype of vaccine-induced CD8+ T-cell responses to Toxoplasma gondii. Infect Immun 77: 3894-3901, 2009. Oldenhove, G., Bouladoux, N., Wohlfert, E. A., Hall, J. A., Chou, D., Dos Santos, L., O'Brien, S., Blank, R., Lamb, E., Natarajan, S Kastenmayer, R., Hunter, C., Grigg, M. E., Belkaid, Y Decrease of Foxp3+ Treg cell number and acquisition of effector cell phenotype during lethal infection. Immunity 31: 772-786, 2009. Wilson, E. H., T. H. Harris, P. Mrass, B. John, E. D. 5. Tait, G. F. Wu, M. Pepper, E. J. Wherry, F. Dzierzinski, D. Roos, P. G. Haydon, T. M. Laufer, W. Weninger, and C. A. Hunter. Behavior of parasite-specific effector CD8+ T cells in the brain and visualization of a kinesis-associated system of reticular fibers. Immunity 30: 300-311, 2009.