Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (2018)
  • Bachelor of Agriculture, China Agricultural University (2012)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Regulation of neonatal IgA production by the maternal microbiota PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Mu, Q., Swartwout, B. K., Edwards, M., Zhu, J., Lee, G., Eden, K., Cabana-Puig, X., McDaniel, D. K., Mao, J., Abdelhamid, L., Brock, R. M., Allen, I., Reilly, C. M., Luo, X. M. 2021; 118 (9)


    Infants are prone to enteric infections due to an underdeveloped immune system. The maternal microbiota, through shaping the neonatal microbiota, helps establish a strong immune system in infants. We and others have observed the phenomenon of enhanced early neonatal immunoglobulin A (IgA) production in preweaning immunocompetent mice nursed by immunodeficient dams. Here, we show that this enhancement of IgA in neonates results from maternally derived microbiota. In addition, we have found that the neonatal IgA production can be induced by Lactobacillus reuteri, which is enriched in the milk of immunodeficient dams. Moreover, we show that while the production of neonatal IgA is dependent on neonatal T cells, the immunodeficient maternal microbiota-mediated enhancement of neonatal IgA has a T cell-independent component. Indeed, this enhancement may be dependent on type 3 innate lymphoid cells in the neonatal small intestinal lamina propria. Interestingly, maternal microbiota-induced neonatal IgA does not cross-react with common enteric pathogens. Future investigations will determine the functional consequences of having this extra IgA.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2015691118

    View details for Web of Science ID 000625304300017

    View details for PubMedID 33619092

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7936341

  • Gut Microbiota and Bacterial DNA Suppress Autoimmunity by Stimulating Regulatory B Cells in a Murine Model of Lupus FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY Mu, Q., Edwards, M. R., Swartwout, B. K., Cabana Puig, X., Mao, J., Zhu, J., Grieco, J., Cecere, T. E., Prakash, M., Reilly, C. M., Puglisi, C., Bachali, P., Grammer, A. C., Lipsky, P. E., Luo, X. M. 2020; 11: 593353


    Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, are characterized by excessive inflammation in response to self-antigens. Loss of appropriate immunoregulatory mechanisms contribute to disease exacerbation. We previously showed the suppressive effect of vancomycin treatment during the "active-disease" stage of lupus. In this study, we sought to understand the effect of the same treatment given before disease onset. To develop a model in which to test the regulatory role of the gut microbiota in modifying autoimmunity, we treated lupus-prone mice with vancomycin in the period before disease development (3-8 weeks of age). We found that administration of vancomycin to female MRL/lpr mice early, only during the pre-disease period but not from 3 to 15 weeks of age, led to disease exacerbation. Early vancomycin administration also reduced splenic regulatory B (Breg) cell numbers, as well as reduced circulating IL-10 and IL-35 in 8-week old mice. Further, we found that during the pre-disease period, administration of activated IL-10 producing Breg cells to mice treated with vancomycin suppressed lupus initiation, and that bacterial DNA from the gut microbiota was an inducer of Breg function. Oral gavage of bacterial DNA to mice treated with vancomycin increased Breg cells in the spleen and mesenteric lymph node at 8 weeks of age and reduced autoimmune disease severity at 15 weeks. This work suggests that a form of oral tolerance induced by bacterial DNA-mediated expansion of Breg cells suppress disease onset in the autoimmune-prone MRL/lpr mouse model. Future studies are warranted to further define the mechanism behind bacterial DNA promoting Breg cells.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2020.593353

    View details for Web of Science ID 000591649200001

    View details for PubMedID 33240280

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7683516

  • Pregnancy and lactation interfere with the response of autoimmunity to modulation of gut microbiota MICROBIOME Mu, Q., Cabana-Puig, X., Mao, J., Swartwout, B., Abdelhamid, L., Cecere, T. E., Wang, H., Reilly, C. M., Luo, X. M. 2019; 7: 105


    Dysbiosis of gut microbiota exists in the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). Lupus patients who experienced pregnancy usually had more severe disease flares post-delivery. However, the possible role of gut microbiota in the link between pregnancy and exacerbation of lupus remains to be explored.In the classical lupus mouse model MRL/lpr, we compared the structures of gut microbiota in pregnant and lactating individuals vs. age-matched naïve mice. Consistent with studies on non-lupus mice, both pregnancy and lactation significantly changed the composition and diversity of gut microbiota. Strikingly, modulation of gut microbiota using the same strategy resulted in different disease outcomes in postpartum (abbreviated as "PP," meaning that the mice had undergone pregnancy and lactation) vs. control (naïve; i.e., without pregnancy or lactation) MRL/lpr females; while vancomycin treatment attenuated lupus in naïve mice, it did not do so, or even exacerbated lupus, in PP mice. Lactobacillus animalis flourished in the gut upon vancomycin treatment, and direct administration of L. animalis via oral gavage recapitulated the differential effects of vancomycin in PP vs. control mice. An enzyme called indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase was significantly inhibited by L. animalis; however, this inhibition was only apparent in PP mice, which explained, at least partially, the lack of beneficial response to vancomycin in these mice. The differential production of immunosuppressive IL-10 and proinflammatory IFNγ in PP vs. control mice further explained why the disease phenotypes varied between the two types of mice bearing the same gut microbiota remodeling strategy.These results suggest that pregnancy and lactation interfere with the response of autoimmunity to modulation of gut microbiota. Further studies are necessary to better understand the complex relationship between pregnancy and lupus.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s40168-019-0720-8

    View details for Web of Science ID 000475858800001

    View details for PubMedID 31311609

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6635999

  • Role of Lactobacillus reuteri in Human Health and Diseases FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY Mu, Q., Tavella, V. J., Luo, X. M. 2018; 9: 757


    Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri) is a well-studied probiotic bacterium that can colonize a large number of mammals. In humans, L. reuteri is found in different body sites, including the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, skin, and breast milk. The abundance of L. reuteri varies among different individuals. Several beneficial effects of L. reuteri have been noted. First, L. reuteri can produce antimicrobial molecules, such as organic acids, ethanol, and reuterin. Due to its antimicrobial activity, L. reuteri is able to inhibit the colonization of pathogenic microbes and remodel the commensal microbiota composition in the host. Second, L. reuteri can benefit the host immune system. For instance, some L. reuteri strains can reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines while promoting regulatory T cell development and function. Third, bearing the ability to strengthen the intestinal barrier, the colonization of L. reuteri may decrease the microbial translocation from the gut lumen to the tissues. Microbial translocation across the intestinal epithelium has been hypothesized as an initiator of inflammation. Therefore, inflammatory diseases, including those located in the gut as well as in remote tissues, may be ameliorated by increasing the colonization of L. reuteri. Notably, the decrease in the abundance of L. reuteri in humans in the past decades is correlated with an increase in the incidences of inflammatory diseases over the same period of time. Direct supplementation or prebiotic modulation of L. reuteri may be an attractive preventive and/or therapeutic avenue against inflammatory diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00757

    View details for Web of Science ID 000430401000001

    View details for PubMedID 29725324

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5917019

  • Antibiotics ameliorate lupus-like symptoms in mice SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Mu, Q., Tavella, V. J., Kirby, J. L., Cecere, T. E., Chung, M., Lee, J., Li, S., Ahmed, S., Eden, K., Allen, I., Reilly, C. M., Luo, X. M. 2017; 7: 13675


    Gut microbiota and the immune system interact to maintain tissue homeostasis, but whether this interaction is involved in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is unclear. Here we report that oral antibiotics given during active disease removed harmful bacteria from the gut microbiota and attenuated SLE-like disease in lupus-prone mice. Using MRL/lpr mice, we showed that antibiotics given after disease onset ameliorated systemic autoimmunity and kidney histopathology. They decreased IL-17-producing cells and increased the level of circulating IL-10. In addition, antibiotics removed Lachnospiraceae and increased the relative abundance of Lactobacillus spp., two groups of bacteria previously shown to be associated with deteriorated or improved symptoms in MRL/lpr mice, respectively. Moreover, we showed that the attenuated disease phenotype could be recapitulated with a single antibiotic vancomycin, which reshaped the gut microbiota and changed microbial functional pathways in a time-dependent manner. Furthermore, vancomycin treatment increased the barrier function of the intestinal epithelium, thus preventing the translocation of lipopolysaccharide, a cell wall component of Gram-negative Proteobacteria and known inducer of lupus in mice, into the circulation. These results suggest that mixed antibiotics or a single antibiotic vancomycin ameliorate SLE-like disease in MRL/lpr mice by changing the composition of gut microbiota.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-14223-0

    View details for Web of Science ID 000413357500041

    View details for PubMedID 29057975

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5651817

  • Control of lupus nephritis by changes of gut microbiota MICROBIOME Mu, Q., Zhang, H., Liao, X., Lin, K., Liu, H., Edwards, M. R., Ahmed, S., Yuan, R., Li, L., Cecere, T. E., Branson, D. B., Kirby, J. L., Goswami, P., Leeth, C. M., Read, K. A., Oestreich, K. J., Vieson, M. D., Reilly, C. M., Luo, X. M. 2017; 5: 73


    Systemic lupus erythematosus, characterized by persistent inflammation, is a complex autoimmune disorder with no known cure. Immunosuppressants used in treatment put patients at a higher risk of infections. New knowledge of disease modulators, such as symbiotic bacteria, can enable fine-tuning of parts of the immune system, rather than suppressing it altogether.Dysbiosis of gut microbiota promotes autoimmune disorders that damage extraintestinal organs. Here we report a role of gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of renal dysfunction in lupus. Using a classical model of lupus nephritis, MRL/lpr, we found a marked depletion of Lactobacillales in the gut microbiota. Increasing Lactobacillales in the gut improved renal function of these mice and prolonged their survival. We used a mixture of 5 Lactobacillus strains (Lactobacillus oris, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus johnsonii, and Lactobacillus gasseri), but L. reuteri and an uncultured Lactobacillus sp. accounted for most of the observed effects. Further studies revealed that MRL/lpr mice possessed a "leaky" gut, which was reversed by increased Lactobacillus colonization. Lactobacillus treatment contributed to an anti-inflammatory environment by decreasing IL-6 and increasing IL-10 production in the gut. In the circulation, Lactobacillus treatment increased IL-10 and decreased IgG2a that is considered to be a major immune deposit in the kidney of MRL/lpr mice. Inside the kidney, Lactobacillus treatment also skewed the Treg-Th17 balance towards a Treg phenotype. These beneficial effects were present in female and castrated male mice, but not in intact males, suggesting that the gut microbiota controls lupus nephritis in a sex hormone-dependent manner.This work demonstrates essential mechanisms on how changes of the gut microbiota regulate lupus-associated immune responses in mice. Future studies are warranted to determine if these results can be replicated in human subjects.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s40168-017-0300-8

    View details for Web of Science ID 000405193600001

    View details for PubMedID 28697806

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5505136

  • Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY Mu, Q., Kirby, J., Reilly, C. M., Luo, X. M. 2017; 8: 598


    The intestinal epithelial lining, together with factors secreted from it, forms a barrier that separates the host from the environment. In pathologic conditions, the permeability of the epithelial lining may be compromised allowing the passage of toxins, antigens, and bacteria in the lumen to enter the blood stream creating a "leaky gut." In individuals with a genetic predisposition, a leaky gut may allow environmental factors to enter the body and trigger the initiation and development of autoimmune disease. Growing evidence shows that the gut microbiota is important in supporting the epithelial barrier and therefore plays a key role in the regulation of environmental factors that enter the body. Several recent reports have shown that probiotics can reverse the leaky gut by enhancing the production of tight junction proteins; however, additional and longer term studies are still required. Conversely, pathogenic bacteria that can facilitate a leaky gut and induce autoimmune symptoms can be ameliorated with the use of antibiotic treatment. Therefore, it is hypothesized that modulating the gut microbiota can serve as a potential method for regulating intestinal permeability and may help to alter the course of autoimmune diseases in susceptible individuals.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00598

    View details for Web of Science ID 000401873100001

    View details for PubMedID 28588585

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5440529

  • SLE: Another Autoimmune Disorder influenced by Microbes and Diet? FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY Mu, Q., Zhang, H., Luo, X. M. 2015; 6: 608


    Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-system autoimmune disease. Despite years of study, the etiology of SLE is still unclear. Both genetic and environmental factors have been implicated in the disease mechanisms. In the past decade, a growing body of evidence has indicated an important role of gut microbes in the development of autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. However, such knowledge on SLE is little, though we have already known that environmental factors can trigger the development of lupus. Several recent studies have suggested that alterations of the gut microbial composition may be correlated with SLE disease manifestations, while the exact roles of either symbiotic or pathogenic microbes in this disease remain to be explored. Elucidation of the roles of gut microbes - as well as the roles of diet that can modulate the composition of gut microbes - in SLE will shed light on how this autoimmune disorder develops, and provide opportunities for improved biomarkers of the disease and the potential to probe new therapies. In this review, we aim to compile the available evidence on the contributions of diet and gut microbes to SLE occurrence and pathogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2015.00608

    View details for Web of Science ID 000366480000001

    View details for PubMedID 26648937

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4663251