Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research (CeDER)

Marcia F. McInerney, PhD.

Marcia F. McInerney, PhD, Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Medicinal and Biological Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. McInerney received her PhD from the University of Michigan. Before she joined the University of Toledo College of Pharmacy in 1991, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Immunobiology in the laboraotry of Dr Charles Janeway at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. McInerney has also been a Visiting Professor of Medicine at Harvard (1998-1999) and is an Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan in the Division of Diabetes, Metabolism and Endocrinology.

A prime interest of Dr. McInerney’s laboratory is in identifying dietary and genetic risk factors in Obesity and Insulin Resistant or Type 2 Diabetes. The work on obesity and type 2 diabetes is a collaborative USDA-funded research project with Dr. Najjar. Dr. McInerney’s part of this project is to investigate the role of inflammation and immunity, both innate and adaptive, in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Another major focus involves assessment of innate immune responses to oral pathogens in diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for severe periodontal disease caused by gram-negative anaerobes. Previous studies suggest that both innate and adaptive immunity are involved in protection against periodontal infection. Innate immune responses are the first line of defense against infection. Innate immune system cells, such as macrophages, react to common microbial surface molecules through newly discovered receptors on the macrophage cell surface called Toll-like receptors (TLRs). Dr. McInerney aims to determine the role of TLRs in the initiation of host immune responses against oral pathogens in periodontal infection, using the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of type 1 diabetes as well as animal models for type 2 diabetes, which are generated in CeDER-affiliated laboratories. The working hypothesis is that a defect in innate immunity in diabetes contributes to the susceptibility to periodontal infection since it is likely that the interaction between the TLR and the oral pathogen initiates immune responses. Following a recent sabbatical in the Department of Internal Medicine, the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes at the University of Michigan, Dr. McInernery is gearing up to examine the innate immune function of TLRs in human type 1 diabetic patients and adult onset type 1 diabetic patients.

Dr. McInerney’s research also focuses on the autoimmune aspects of Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes, using NOD mouse as a primary model. In type 1 diabetes, autoantibodies to insulin and islet cells are produced, and T lymphocytes invade the islets in the pancreas. T-cell invasion (or insulitis) is associated with destruction of the insulin-secreting beta cells. The laboratory has shown that flow cytometry-sorted T lymphocytes from diabetic NOD mice, expressing a high density of insulin receptors (IR+ T cells), aggressively transfer insulitis and diabetes. Furthermore, chemotactic and metabolic signaling are mediated by distinct parts of the insulin receptor and could therefore, be selectively targeted for therapeutic intervention prior to diabetes onset. Current research in her laboratory involves the development of flag-tagged, T cell-specific, IR transgenic mouse on a background that does not spontaneously become diabetic to determine if movement of T cells into an islet can be based on insulin receptor expression.

Dr. McInerney has received research funding from the American Diabetes Association (CAREER Development Award), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation, and NIH and is currently supported by NIFA/USDA. Dr McInerney is a committee member for NIDDK grant review.

Dr. McInerney has authored 25 peer-reviewed articles.

Last Updated: 6/26/15