Honors Theses


Yvonne Sun, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


Propionate is a short chain fatty acid produced by the bacteria in the human gut. It has a wide range of nutritional functions in the human body. Several studies have also reported the effects of propionate on immune cell activation. In this study, we used Listeria monocytogenes as a model pathogen to determine how and what the effects of propionate on immune cells influence cell susceptibility to infections. Listeria is a dangerous intracellular pathogen that can replicate inside immune cells such as macrophages. Therefore, we can assess the impact of propionate on infection susceptibility by performing cell culture infections. We previously showed that propionate treatment on Listeria does not impact its ability to grow inside macrophages. However, when macrophages were treated with propionate prior and during infections, I was able to observe a significantly decreased Listeria intracellular growth compared to non-treated macrophages. These results suggest that propionate may strengthen the antimicrobial mechanisms in macrophages to restrict the intracellular growth of Listeria. Results from my study will help establish the role of propionate in regulating our immune defense mechanisms during host-pathogen interactions.

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Undergraduate research



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