Dr. Deanna Nguyen

We are interested in studying the role of actin regulation in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease.


NFkB nuclear translocation imaged using Amnis technology
NFkB nuclear translocation imaged using Amnis technology

Much of the current understanding of the pathogenesis underlying inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) comes from studies using animal models. To date, it appears that IBD develops due to a genetic predisposition resulting in altered immune response to the intestinal microbiome. My laboratory is interested in how the actin network regulates mucosal immune homeostasis. We initially focused our studies on the spontaneous colitis that occurs in mice deficient in Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein (WASP), an intracellular hematopoietic cell-specific protein that regulates actin polymerization, which is essential for numerous immune cell functions. This serves as one of the few animal models of IBD with a human correlate, since some patients with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome also develop colitis. We found that lack of functioning WASP leads to deficiencies in T cell activation and chemotaxis, quantitative and qualitative defects in regulatory T cells, aberrant education of T cells by innate immune cells (partially through defective production of interleukin-10), and spontaneous CD4+ T cell-mediated intestinal inflammation that is associated with a skewed Th2-cytokine profile. This led to the overall question of whether mucosal dysregulation in these mice stems from defects in actin remodeling. My laboratory is now interested in studying other regulators of actin polymerization and bundling, such as Rac and L-plastin, in controlling intestinal immune balance.

The goal of my research is to elucidate the pathogenesis underlying the development of inflammatory bowel disease in the hopes of identifying novel therapeutic targets. In addition, as a physician at the MGH Crohn’s & Colitis Center and a co-investigator in PRISM (Prospective Registry of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study at MGH), I am also interested in identifying novel serum and urine biomarkers of inflammatory bowel disease and identifying rare but highly penetrant genetic variants associated with risk for inflammatory bowel disease, specifically ulcerative colitis. Lastly, I also participate in clinical trials of novel therapies and take part in a national study on the safety of commonly used medications for inflammatory bowel disease during pregnancy.

Dr. Deanna Nguyen is currently Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her interest in mucosal immunology research began in high school under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Hodin (Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School), and continued at Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. She then completed her postdoctoral training under Dr. Scott Snapper (Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School) during gastroenterology fellowship and advanced fellowship in inflammatory bowel disease at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2008, she came on staff at MGH as attending physician in the Crohn’s and Colitis Center and investigator in the Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Group Members

Deanna Nguyen, M.D.
Gastrointestinal Unit
Jackson 815
Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114
Office: 617-724-2047
Fax: 617-726-3080

Yan Song, Ph.D.

Romela Marin, B.S.


  1.  Snapper SB, Meelu, P, Nguyen, D, Bozza P, Alt FW, Rosen FS, von Andrian UH, Klein C. WASP-deficiency leads to global defects of directed leukocyte migration in vitro and in vivo. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 2005; 77:993-8. PMID: 15774550.
  2. Maillard M, Cotta-de-Almeida V, Takeshima F, Nguyen D, Michetti P, Nagler C, Bhan AK, Snapper SB.  The Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome protein is required for the function of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Regulatory T cells. Journal of Experimental Medicine 2007; 204: 381-91. PMCID2118715
  3. Nguyen D, Mizoguchi A, Mizoguchi E, Takeshima F, Beck P, Takedatsu H, Klein C, Podolsky DK, Bhan AK, Snapper S.  Colitis in Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein (WASP)-Deficient Mice: A Novel Th2 Model of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterology 2007. 133: 1188-97. PMCID2048975
  4. Matharu K, Mizoguchi E, Cotoner C, Nguyen D, Mingle B, Iweala O, McBee M, Stefka A, Priout G, Haigis K, Bhan A, Snapper S, Murakami H, Schauer D, Reinecker HC, Mizoguchi A, Nagler C. TLR4 Mediated Protection Against Spontaneous Colitis in IL-10 Deficient Mice. Gastroenterology.  2009: 183:2252-60.  PMCID: PMC2757440.
  5. Nguyen D & Snapper SB. Editorial: Targeting Smads to Respore TGF-β Signaling and Regulatory T cell Function in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterology. 2009;136:1161-4.
  6. Ramasamy S, Nguyen D, Eston M, Alam SN, Moss AK, Ebrahimi F, Biswas B, Mostafa G, Chen KT, Yammine H, Narisawa S, Millan JL, Warren HS, Hohmann EL, Mizoguchi E,  Reinecker HC, Bhan AK, Snapper SB, Malo MS, Hodin RA. Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase Has Beneficial Effects in Mouse Models of Chronic Colitis.  Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2011 Feb;17(2):532-42.  PMCID: PMC3154118. 
  7. Nguyen D, Wurbel MA, Goettel J, Eston M, Boden EK, Marin R, Villablanca E, Paidassi H, Ahuja V, Reinecker HC, Fiebiger E, Lacy-Hulbert A, Horwitz B, Mora JR, Snapper SB. Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein Expression in Innate Immune Cells Prevents Mucosal Dysregulation and Colitis in Mice. Gastroenterology 2012 Sep;143(3):719-729.  PMCID: PMC3760724. 
  8. Nguyen D & Snapper SB. “Immunobiology—T cells” in Baumgart D, editor, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: From Epidemiology and Immunobiology to a Rational Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approach. 2012. New York: Springer.
  9. Nguyen D, Muthupalani S, Goettel JA, Eston MA, Mobley M, Taylor NS, McCabe A, Marin R, Snapper SB, and Fox JG. Colitis and Colon Cancer in WASP-Deficient Mice Require Helicobacter Spp. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2013.  PMID:  23820270. 
  10. Villablanca EJ, De Calisto J, Torregrosa Paredes P, Cassani B, Nguyen D, Gabrielsson S, Mora JR. β7 integrins are required to give rise to intestinal mononuclear phagocytes with tolerogenic potential. Gut. 2013 Sep 12, epub.  PMID:  24030488. 
  11. Peloquin J and Nguyen D.  The Microbiota and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Insights from Animal Models. Anaerobe. 2013 Apr 17. Epub.
  12. Low D, Nguyen D, Mizoguchi E. Animal models of ulcerative colitis and their application in drug research. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. In press.

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