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Susan Tonkonogy, PhD

Susan Tonkonogy

Microbiology and Immunology
Associate Professor

Office: B-335, CVM Main Building
Phone: 919-513-6252
Fax: 919-513-6464

Director, of the Gnotobiotic Animal Core of the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease.

Course Involvement

  • VMP 910: Infection and Immunology
  • VMP 921: Problem Solving for Cases in Infectious Diseases and Immunity
  • VMP 978: Clinical Immunology Rotation

Graduate Courses

  • IMM 816: Advanced Topics in Immunology-Immunology Journal Club
  • PHY/CBS 764: Advances in Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology
  • CBS 570: Methods in Biomedical Research


  • PhD, Immunology, Harvard University
  • Post Doctoral: Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, Duke University Medical Center

Research Area

Mucosal immunology

Current Research

My current research focuses on cytokine mediated regulation of immunity and inflammation in the intestinal tract. Our studies are designed to determine how the intestinal immune response is involved in initiation and perpetuation of chronic intestinal inflammation that occurs in human inflammatory bowel disease.

Current Projects

Colitis Induced by Immune Responses to Luminal Bacteria

The aim of our current studies is to elucidate the role of virulence gene products on the development of enterocolitis in IL-10 deficient mice. Our hypothesis is that persistent exposure of previously germ-free mice to invasive, translocating, intracellular commensal bacteria induces bacterial antigen-driven T cell responses that cause chronic intestinal inflammation.

Current Collaborators

Dr. R. Balfour Sartor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Medicine

Selected Publications


Packey CD, Shanahan MT, Manick S, Bower MA, Ellermann M, Tonkonogy SL, Carroll IM and Sartor RB.  Molecular Detection of Bacterial Contamination in Gnotobiotic Rodent Units, Gut Microbes. 2013 Jul 24;4(5).

Liu B, Tonkonogy SL, Sartor RB. 2011. IL-10 produced by antigen presenting cells inhibits bacterial-responsive TH1/TH17 cells and suppresses colitis in mice. Gastroenterology 141:653-62.

Steck N, Hoffmann M, Irina S, Kim S, Hahne H, Tonkonogy SL, Mair K, Krueger D, Pruteanu M, Shanahan F, Vogelmann R, Schemann M, Küster B, Sartor RB, Haller D. 2011. Bacterial proteases contribute to intestinal inflammation by impairing mucosal barrier function in the susceptible host. Gastroenterology 141:959-71.

Lee SM, Wyse A, Lesher A, Everett ML, Lou L, Holzknecht ZE, Whitesides JF, Spears PA, Bowles DE, Lin SS, Tonkonogy SL, Orndorff PE, Bollinger RR, Parker W. 2010. Adaptation in a mouse colony monoassociated with Escherichia coli K-12 for more than 1000 days. Appl Environ Microbiol. 76:4655-63.

Albright CA, Sartor RB, Tonkonogy SL. 2009 Endogenous antigen presenting cell-derived IL-10 inhibits T lymphocyte responses to commensal enteric bacteria. Immunol Lett 123:77-87.

Moran JP, Walter J, Tannock GW, Tonkonogy SL, Sartor RB. 2009. Bifidobacterium animalis causes extensive duodenitis and mild colonic inflammation in monoassociated interleukin-10 deficient mice. Inflamm Bowel Dis 15:1022-1031.

Qian B-F, Tonkonogy SL, and Sartor RB.  2008. Reduced responsiveness of HLA-B27 transgenic rat cells to TGF-b and IL-10-mediated regulation of IFN-g production. Inflamm Bowel Dis 14:921-30.

Qian B-F, Tonkonogy SL, Sartor RB.  2008. Aberrant innate immune responses in TLR-ligand activated HLA-B27 transgenic rat cells. Inflamm Bowel Dis 14:1358-65.

Hoentjen F, Tonkonogy SL, Qian B-F, Liu B, Dieleman LA, Sartor RB.  2007. CD4+ T lymphocytes mediate colitis in HLA-B27 transgenic rats monoassociated with non-pathogenic Bacteroides vulgatus. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 13:317-24.

Meng D, Newburg DS, Young C, Baker A, Tonkonogy SL, Sartor RB, Walker WA, Nanthakumar NN. 2007 Bacterial symbionts induce a FUT2-dependent fucosylated niche on colonic epithelium via ERK and JNK signaling. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 293:G780-7.

Kim SC, Tonkonogy, SL, Karrasch T, Jobin C, Sartor RB. 2007. Dual-association of gnotobiotic IL-10-/- mice with two non-pathogenic commensal bacteria induces aggressive pancolitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 13:1457-66.

Qian B-F, Tonkonogy SL, Sartor RB. 2006. Luminal bacterial antigen-specific CD4+ T cell responses in HLA-B27 transgenic rats with chronic colitis are mediated by both MHC Class II and HLA-B27 molecules. Immunology, 117:319-28.

Hoentjen F, Tonkonogy SL, Liu B, Sartor RB, Taurog JD, Dieleman LA. 2006. Adoptive transfer of non-transgenic mesenteric lymph node cells induces colitis in athymic HLA-B27 transgenic nude rats. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 143:474-82.

Kim SC, Tonkonogy SL, Albright CA, Tsang J, Balish EJ, Braun J, Huycke MM, Sartor RB. 2005. Variable phenotypes of enterocolitis in IL-10 deficient mice monoassociated with two different

commensal bacteria.  Gastroenterology 128:891-906.

Qian B-F, Tonkonogy SL, Hoentjen F, Dieleman LA, Sartor RB. 2005. Dysregulated luminal bacterial antigen-specific T cell responses and antigen presenting cell function in HLA-B27 transgenic rats with chronic colitis.  Immunology 116:112-21.

Dieleman LA, Hoentjen F, Qian B-F, Sprengers D, Tjwa E, Torres MF, Torrice CD, Sartor RB, Tonkonogy SL. 2004. Reduced ratio of protective versus proinflammatory cytokine responses to commensal bacteria in HLA-B27 transgenic rats. Clin Exp Immunol. 136:30-9.

Lab Personnel

Ashley Weaver – Gnotobiotic Animal Core manager

Contact Information:

CVM Finger Barn 4, Room

Phone: 513-6561


Gnotobiotic Animal Core, Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease