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Anthony J Filiano

Assistant Professor in Neurosurgery
Campus Mail: 701 W. Main St, Chesterfield Bldg Room 5424, Durham, NC 27701
Phone: (919) 613-6058

Immune dysfunction has been described in most neurological disorders. Preclinical strategies targeting these disorders have primarily concentrated on directly targeting synaptic function; however, most of these approaches have failed. Our lab is interested in understanding the complex interactions between the immune system and nervous system with the intent to uncover novel therapeutic targets to combat diseases such as autism spectrum disorder.

 Projects in the Lab:

  1. T cells support proper brain function and mice lacking T cells have behavioral deficits, such as decreased learning and memory and social withdrawal. Further, alterations in T cell function have been described in many neurological disorders. Interestingly, T cells are not present in the parenchyma of a healthy brain; yet they patrol the meninges and likely influence neuronal activity via the release of soluble cytokines. We are investigating how cytokines, and other immune-cell derived molecules, can regulate neural circuits and how an imbalance in these molecules might affect the brain in autism spectrum and other related disorders.               
  2. Cord blood contains a rich source of immune-modulating components including, stem cells, immune cells, and soluble factors. Recent work has demonstrated the efficacy of using cord-blood derived components to promote myelination and increase function in neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, autism spectrum disorder, and aging. We are investigating how cord-blood derived cells and products can be used to promote healthy brain function and alleviate behavioral dysfunction in these devastating neurological conditions.


Education and Training

  • Hartwell Fellow, University of Virginia, 2013 - 2017
  • Post-doctoral fellow, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2009 - 2013
  • D.Phil., University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2009

Selected Publications

Cronk, James C., Anthony J. Filiano, Antoine Louveau, Ioana Marin, Rachel Marsh, Emily Ji, Dylan H. Goldman, et al. “Peripherally derived macrophages can engraft the brain independent of irradiation and maintain an identity distinct from microglia..” J Exp Med 215, no. 6 (June 4, 2018): 1627–47.

Full Text

Filiano, Anthony J., Yang Xu, Nicholas J. Tustison, Rachel L. Marsh, Wendy Baker, Igor Smirnov, Christopher C. Overall, et al. “Unexpected role of interferon-γ in regulating neuronal connectivity and social behaviour..” Nature 535, no. 7612 (July 21, 2016): 425–29.

Full Text