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JCCC Member Directory

Rita B. Effros, Ph.D.
Rita B. Effros, Ph.D.


Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Member, ACCESS Department - Cellular and Molecular Pathology
Member, JCCC Tumor Immunology Program Area

Contact Information:

(310) 825-0748

Scientific Interest(s):

Dr. Rita Effros' research is focused on the immune deficiency associated with aging and HIV/AIDS, with particular emphasis on a novel aspect of T-cell biology known as replicative senescence.

Replicative senescence describes the irreversible state of growth arrest which all normal human somatic cells reach after a finite number of cell divisions. Using a novel cell culture system established in her laboratory, Effros and her colleagues have defined certain characteristics of replicative senescence in CD8 T-lymphocytes. These include the inability to undergo further cell division, loss of expression of the CD8 costimulatory molecule, telomere lengths which shorten to 5 - 7 kb from an initial 10 - 11 kb length, loss of the ability to upregulate telomerase, altered cytokine profiles and resistance to apoptosis. Her research has shown that T-cells with these identical characteristics accumulate in the elderly and may explain the dramatic age-associated immune decline, manifested by higher cancer incidence and increased infections. Moreover, Effros has shown that certain CD8+ T-cells in HIV-infected subjects exhibit all the characteristics of replicative senescence and that these "useless" T-cells accumulate with disease progression. Thus, CD8 T-cell replicative senescence is a newly defined aspect of AIDS pathogenesis, which may explain the increased lymphoma incidence as well as the diminished capacity to control both the HIV itself and opportunistic pathogens.

Current work in her lab focuses on genetic and non-genetic strategies to enhance telomerase activity in human T-cells. In addition, ongoing studies are addressing the mechanistic link between chronic T-cell activation leading to replicative senescence and loss of bone mass in the context of aging and HIV disease.

Selected Cancer-Related Publications:

Dock JN, Effros RB. Role of CD8 T Cell Replicative Senescence in Human Aging and in HIV-mediated Immunosenescence. Aging Dis. 2011 Oct;2(5):382-397.

Graham LS, Tintut Y, Parhami F, Kitchen CM, Ivanov Y, Tetradis S, Effros RB. Bone density and hyperlipidemia: the T-lymphocyte connection. J Bone Miner Res. 2010 Nov;25(11):2460-9.

Parish ST, Wu JE, Effros RB. Modulation of T lymphocyte replicative senescence via TNF-{alpha} inhibition: role of caspase-3. J Immunol. 2009 Apr 1;182(7):4237-43.

Effros RB, Fletcher CV, Gebo K, Halter JB, Hazzard WR, Horne FM, Huebner RE, Janoff EN, Justice AC, Kuritzkes D, Nayfield SG, Plaeger SF, Schmader KE, Ashworth JR, Campanelli C, Clayton CP, Rada B, Woolard NF, High KP. Aging and infectious diseases: workshop on HIV infection and aging: what is known and future research directions. Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Aug 15;47(4):542-53.

Aspinall R, Del Giudice G, Effros RB, Grubeck-Loebenstein B, Sambhara S. Challenges for vaccination in the elderly. Immun Ageing. 2007 Dec 11;4:9.