Ritu Chakravarti



  • I am interested in understanding the role of antigens in autoimmune diseases. Originally, antigens are presumed to be bad players that aggravate immune responses and promote the disease progression. But recent research, including ours, suggest that antigens are involved in protective immunity. We have focused on one of the two isoforms (ζ and ε) of 14-3-3 family of proteins that we originally identified as autoantigens in patients with large-vessel vasculitis. We tested about 80 human surgical thoracic aortic tissues and hundreds of sera specimens to confirm 14-3-3ζ antigenic presence. Importantly we observed all healthy individuals carry this antigen! Therefore, we have focused our attention on understanding the physiological significance of 14-3-3ζ antigenic function in human health and disease. 


    We recently reported that the antigenic presence of 14-3-3z promotes T cell activation to Th1 and Th17 in human PBMC; therefore, it promotes the production of IFN-g and IL-17A. Both IFN-g and IL-17A cytokines are associated with autoimmune diseases. We tested the physiologic role of antigenic 14-3-3z in vivo by immunizing animals that were subjected to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The results show that antigenic 14-3-3z suppresses RA. This unexpected finding raised several new questions, which we are currently trying to understand. In search of such an answer, we observed that 14-3-3z antigenicity is decreased in human RA patients. This observation may explain our observations that animals upon 14-3-3z immunization are protected. We are currently using 14-3-3z knockout animals and human sera from different immune diseases to decipher the exact mechanism of its pro-health role. We hope to use 14-3-3z as a prophylactic tool to prevent RA.


    My research has been funded by AHA, Vasculitis Foundation, and CSTCR grants. I am currently working to obtain more funding from NIH and AHA.


    In addition to collaborative research, I have strong education and service components. I have trained more than 15 post-graduate students, six medical students, and three technicians in lab research and management. I am currently track director of MOME, course director of ‘Cellular Signaling’ in College of Graduate Studies, coordinator of Pre-Med Summer Camp at College of Medicine & Life Sciences, and coordinator of ‘Training Leaders Club’ at the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology. Also, I teach cellular signaling to 1st year and physiology to 2nd year medical students. 


    Overall, I am a curious researcher and an engaging teacher.

selected publications

full name

  • Ritu Chakravarti


Cumulative publications in Scholars@UToledo