Immunology Faculty Member - Joshua Boyce, MD

Joshua Boyce, MD

Albert L. Sheffer Professor of Medicine in the field of Allergic Disease
Harvard Medical School
Director, Inflammation and Allergic Disease Research Section
Director, Jeff and Penny Vinik Center for Allergic Disease Research

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Building for Transformative Medicine (BTM)

60 Fenwood Road, Room 5002V
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617-525-1261
Fax: 617-525-1310

The overall goal of my lab is to apply principals of pathophysiology of allergic diseases in humans to questions at the bench, and in turn to bring fundamental findings made at the bench back to the clinic. The dominant themes include how lipid mediators, nucleotides, and their receptors function in a network to control the development and maintenance of airway inflammation, a process central to the pathobiology of asthma. We defined a key role for interleukin (IL)-4 as an accessory mitogen for human mast cells. Human mast cells exposed to IL-4 become competent to generate leukotriene C4 (LTC4) the precursor of the powerful bronchoconstrictor LTD4 and the stable metabolite LTE4. This competence is due to the induced expression of LTC4 synthase, the requisite terminal enzyme involved in LTC4 synthesis. These observations explain why mucosal inflammation elicits a mast cell hyperplasia accompanied by strikingly increased regional concentrations of LTC4 LTD4 and LTE4. We discovered that the growth potentiating effect of IL-4 depended on the induction of LTC4S, and the transactivation of the c-kit tyrosine kinase by the type 1 receptor for cys-LTs (CysLT1R). We also demonstrated that CysLT1R on mast cells exists as a heterodimer with the type 2 receptor for cys-LTs (CysLT2R), and that the latter is a potent negative regulator of the former. Most recently, we discovered that LTE4 only a weak agonist of CysLT1R and CysLT2R, is the most potent member of this mediator class for causing chemokine generation by mast cells and potentiating pulmonary inflammation in mice. These actions are due to the purinergic receptor P2Y12, which we have shown to be the long-elusive third cys-LT receptor. Lastly, we have used both benchside translational approaches and transgenic animals to define a key role for platelets in the pathophysiology of aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease, a severe variant of asthma. We are presently testing the efficacy of a P2Y12 antagonist on clinical reactions to aspirin challenge in aspirin-intolerant asthmatic individuals as a major goal of a U19 funded by NIAID.

Last Update: 3/29/2019


Mellor EA, Austen KF, Boyce JA. Cysteinyl leukotrienes and uridine diphosphate induce cytokine generation by human mast cells through an interleukin 4-regulated pathway that is inhibited by leukotriene receptor antagonists. J Exp Med. 2002;195;583-592.

Feng CL, Mery AG, Beller EM, Favot CL, Boyce JA. Adenine nucleotides inhibit cytokine generation by human mast cells through a Gs-coupled receptor. J Immunol. 2004;173:7539-7547.

Jiang Y, Kanaoka Y, Feng CL, Nocka K, Rao S, Boyce JA. Cutting Edge: Interleukin 4-dependent mast cell proliferation requires autocrine/intracrine cysteinyl leukotriene-dependent signaling. J Immunol. 2006;177:2755-9.

Jiang Y, Feng C, Backskai B, Boyce JA. CysLT2 receptors interact with CysLT1 receptors and down-modulate cysteinyl leukotriene-dependent mitogenic responses of mast cells. Blood 2007;100:3263-3270.

Paruchuri S, Jiang Y, Feng C, Francis SA, Plutzky J, Boyce JA. Leukotriene E4 activates peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma and induces prostaglandin D2 generation by human mast cells. J Biol Chem 2008;283:16477-16487.

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