Qing He, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor

Microbiology, Biochemistry & Immunology

Phone: 404-756-8959
E-mail: qhe@msm.edu

Research Interests

Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) is a major cause of bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. In 2010, a total of over 1 million chlamydial infections were reported to CDC. Complications caused by Chlamydia in women include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy and involuntary tubal factor infertility. Chlamydia infections also have a major economic impact in the US, with an estimated total cost of $701 million annually. Although chlamydiae are susceptible to antibiotics, the rampart asymptomatic infections often makes presentation of complications such as Tubal factor infertility (TFI) as the first indication of an infection, and resistant chlamydial strains may be emerging. My research focus involves elucidating the molecular mechanisms in the parthenogenesis of chlamydial infection.

I am currently involved in three projects which are all related

This project involves the use of IL-10 deficient dendritic cell system which has a distinct advantage for studies of therapeutic strategies and vaccine development to define a set of host immune molecules that regulate the induction of optimum protective immunity against Chlamydia and determine their mechanism of immunomodulation. Identify a set of host molecules such as the inflammasomes that are involved in the immune pathogenesis of Chlamydia disease, and determine their mechanism of action. This study may provide biomarkers for use in drug treatment and vaccine development against chlamydial disease.

This project involves studying the effect of caspase inhibition on infertility and the integrity of Dicer, a caspase-sensitive, fertility promoting ribonuclease III enzyme, and key micro-RNAs in the reproductive system of Ct infected mice. The results from this study will provide new insights into the molecular pathogenesis of TFI with significant implications for new strategies for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of chlamydial complications leading to TFI.

This project proposes to investigate the role of vitamin D in ameliorating the effect of Chlamydia infection, by studying host immune molecules in infected HELA cells, genital tract pathology, inflammatory responses, and rate of pregnancy and fertility of chlamydial infected VDR knockout mice. The knowledge garnered from this study might be useful for designing part of the prevention strategies against Chlamydia by showing the necessity of screening for vitamin D levels as part of the general Chlamydia screening and might be an index of protection against infection as well as sequelae.


Igietseme JU, Eko F, He Q, Bandea C, Lubitz W, Garcia-Sastre A, Black C. 2005. Delivery of Chlamydia vaccines. Expert Opin Drug Deliv. May;2(3):549-62. Review.PMID: 16296774

He Q, Moore TT, Eko FO, Lyn D, Ananaba GA, Martin A, Singh S, James L, Stiles J, Black CM, Igietseme JU. 2005. Molecular basis for the potency of IL-10-deficient dendritic cells as a highly efficient APC system for activating Th1 response. J Immunol. Apr 15;174(8):4860-9.PMID: 15814713

Barr EL, Ouburg S, Igietseme JU, Morré SA, Okwandu E, Eko FO, Ifere G, Belay T, He Q, Lyn D, Nwankwo G, Lillard JW Jr, Black CM, Ananaba GA. 2005. Host inflammatory response and development of complications of Chlamydia trachomatis genital infection in CCR5-deficient mice and subfertile women with the CCR5delta32 gene deletion. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. Aug;38(4):244-54.PMID: 16118671

Ifere GO, He Q, Igietseme JU, Ananaba GA, Lyn D, Lubitz W, Kellar KL, Black CM, Eko FO. 2007. Immunogenicity and protection against genital Chlamydia infection and its complications by a multisubunit candidate vaccine. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. Jun;40(3):188-200.PMID: 17639158

He Q, Martinez-Sobrido L, Eko FO, Palese P, Garcia-Sastre A, Lyn D, Okenu D, Bandea C, Ananaba GA, Black CM, Igietseme JU. 2007. Live-attenuated influenza viruses as delivery vectors for Chlamydia vaccines. J. Immunology. Sep;122(1):28-37 PMID: 17451464

He Q
, Ananaba GA, Patrickson J, Pitts S, Yi Y, Yan F, Eko FO, Lyn D, Black CM, Igietseme JU, Thierry-Palmer M. Chlamydial infection in vitamin D receptor knockout mice is more intense and prolonged than in wild-type mice. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. May 135:7-14, 2013. 

He, Q., Eko, FO., Lyn, D., Ananaba, GA., Bandea, C., Martinez, J., Joseph, K., Kellar, K., Black, CM., and Igietseme. JU.  Involvement of LEK1 in dendritic cell regulation of T cell immunity against Chlamydia. J Immunol. 181(6):4037-42, 2008. 

Honors and Awards

2016-2012: NIH SC-1 (PI) "Title: Immunomodulation and Vaccine Optimization against Chlamydia"
Amount: $1,132,000 (total award)

2015-2010: NIH/RO1 (Collaborator) "Induction of protective immunity against Chlamydia."
Amount: $1,250,000 (total award)

2010-2009: Georgia Research Alliance (PI) "Title:  Immunomodulating effects of vitamin D hormone during Chlamydia infection"
Amount: $100,000

2010-2006: MBRS/NIGMS (PI) "Title:  Immunomodulation and Vaccine Optimization against Chlamydia."
Amount: $200,000                  

2008: Nobilon International B. V (Co-PI) "Testing vaccine candidates against Chlamydia in mice."
Amount: $35,000.00