Category Archives: Irah King

View his faculty profile here: Irah King, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, McGill University
Research Theme: Immunity at barrier sites such as the lung, gut, and skin
Keywords: infectious disease • barrier tissue immunity • gut-lung axis • leukocyte migration • microbiome
View Irah King’s recent posts and news below.

Scientists-from-McGill-University-and-the-Research-Institute-of-the-MUHC-visit-Braunschweig

Meakins faculty delegation to Braunschweig

Six members of the RI-MUHC took part in a delegation to the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig. Among them were Drs. Irah King, Dao Nguyen, and Maziar Divangahi.

The delegation was part of working visit by McGill University and the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4). Presentations were on selected research topics related to infection including global health, the role of microbiota in infections and personalized medicine.

Read more here on the RI-MUHC News and McGill News websites:

MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform and Dr. Irah King

MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform

The MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform has launched!

We are pleased to announce that the launch phase for the MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform is underway! Based at the RI-MUHC Glen Site, the MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform will provide infrastructure, experimental consultation and training for investigators in the McGill community interested in performing germ-free or gnotobiotic animal studies. Congratulations to Dr. Irah King, Director of the MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform, for all of his hard work to date.

We carry almost two kilograms of microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses collectively referred to as microbiota) in and on our bodies that have potent effects on diseases ranging from diabetes and cancer to neurodegeneration. To understand the function of these complex microbial communities, the use of small animals, such as mice, raised under germ-free conditions (i.e. devoid of all microorganisms) offers a blank canvas onto which known communities of microbes (i.e. gnotobiotic) may be “painted” and studied.

MI4 looks forward to collaborating with Dr. King in the months and years ahead, including via provision of $1 million in funding support over four years. Through its Platforms initiative, MI4 is developing and supporting innovative, open access technological platforms staffed with highly trained personnel which provide support for infection and immunity research across the McGill community.

For more information: https://www.mcgill.ca/mi4/mi4-supported-research/platforms

gut microbiome research

Quebec Microbiome Research Symposium

Congratulations to Dr. Irah King and Dr. Lucie Côté from the RI-MUHC who successfully organized the first Quebec Microbiome Research Symposium! The event was held September 16, 2019 at the RI-MUHC.

More than 100 participants attended this event that brought together researchers and technical specialists involved in microbiome research.

We thank our partners and sponsors that made this event possible: the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (Mi4), Tecniplast and Idexx BioAnalytics.

gut microbiome research

Anti-TB drugs can increase risk of TB re-infection

A study published in Mucosal Immunology by Drs. Irah King and Maziar Divangahi showed that anti-TB drugs ( anti-tuberculosis drugs) caused changes to gut microbiota, thereby compromising immunity. This then led to an increased susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

Current treatments for tuberculosis (TB) are very effective in controlling TB infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). They don’t, however, always prevent reinfection. Why this happens is one of the long-standing questions in TB research.

Gut microbiota are critical to keeping us healthy; they help to digest food, combat pathogenic microbes and reinforce our immune system. Recent research has shown that chronic use of antibiotic leads to disruption of this community, which can in turn lead to dysregulation of the immune system.  It remains unclear, however, whether changes in the composition of the microbes living in our gut have an influence on TB infection. 

The research team treated mice with the most commonly used anti-TB drugs – isoniazid, rifampicin and pyrazinamide – for a period of eight weeks. They found that while all three drugs significantly altered the composition of the mice’s gut microbiome, only mice treated with isoniazid combined with pyrazinamide showed an increase in susceptibility to Mtb infection. Transplanting feces from healthy mice into animals treated with anti-TB drugs was sufficient to restore immunity to Mtb. The team also evaluated a number of lung cell types known to be important for resistance to Mtb infection. Following anti-TB treatment, alveolar macrophages, a type of immune cell located in the airways of mice and humans and the first cell to encounter Mtb upon infection, were compromised in their ability to kill Mtb.

“Anti-TB therapies have been incredibly efficient in controlling the TB epidemic by decreasing morbidity and mortality associated with Mtb. Now, this work provides a basis for novel therapeutic strategies exploiting the gut-lung axis in Mtb infection.’’

– Irah King

Read the full press release here:

View the full publication:

Intestinal dysbiosis compromises alveolar macrophage immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Khan N, Mendonca L, Dhariwal A, Fontes G, Menzies D, Xia J, Divangahi M, King IL. Mucosal Immunol. 2019 May;12(3):772-783. doi: 10.1038/s41385-019-0147-3. Epub 2019 Feb 19. PMID: 30783183

View articles and interviews about this research: