A photo of Claire Chougnet.

Claire A. Chougnet, PhD

  • Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



My main area of research is immune regulation, with two main focuses: 1) chronic immune system activation and 2) the ontogeny of the human immune system.

In the case of chronic activation, the delicate balance between immune effector responses and counter-activation is perturbed. My colleagues and I are pursuing studies of one of the principal mechanisms that modulate this balance, which is a subset of CD4+ T cells called regulatory T cells. We study the biology and function of these cells in the setting of acute and chronic immune activation (HIV infection, aging and fetal inflammation). In particular, my team and I were one of the first to show that the frequency of regulatory T cells increases during chronic HIV infection or aging, which prevents many aspects of harmful, unregulated inflammation. However, it acts as a double-edge sword, blunting other immune responses to other pathogens or vaccines.

The second major problem we study is the ontogeny of the human immune system, and how it reacts to infection and inflammation. Recent findings from my laboratory and others have shown that the human fetal immune system is not inactive, and it starts reacting early on to inflammation and pathogens, but differently when compared to the adult version. This knowledge is the basis of the novel theory of the “fetal origins of diseases,” e.g., early exposure to antigens and inflammation, and the responses it elicits, may shape long-term responsiveness. However, many aspects are still unknown due to the difficulty in obtaining samples in humans. We mainly use non-human primate models to address these questions.
Most of my work is conducted in multi-disciplinary teams. This collaboration is especially necessary when working with human subjects or large animal models, such as non-human primates. The constant interactions with different colleagues, clinicians, statisticians, bio-informaticians and other basic scientists are among the most stimulating and remarkable aspects of my job.

I first joined the team at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2001. My research has been published in numerous journals ,including JCI Insights, Blood, Frontiers in Immunology, PLoS ONE, Journal of immunology and The Journal of Pediatrics.

DPharm: Université Paris XI, Paris, France, 1980.

CES (French specialized degrees; clinical biologist): Immunology, Hematology, Bacteriology-Virology, Parasitology, 1984.

PhD: Université Paris V, 1991.

Research Areas

Molecular Immunology, Immunobiology



A potent myeloid response is rapidly activated in the lungs of premature Rhesus macaques exposed to intra-uterine inflammation. Jackson, CM; Demmert, M; Mukherjee, S; Isaacs, T; Thompson, R; Chastain, C; Gray, J; Senthamaraikannan, P; Presicce, P; Chetal, K; Zacharias, WJ; Lewkowich, IP; Deshmukh, H; Chougnet, CA. Mucosal Immunology. 2022; 15:730-744.


Inflammatory blockade prevents injury to the developing pulmonary gas exchange surface in preterm primates. Toth, A; Steinmeyer, S; Kannan, P; Gray, J; Jackson, CM; Mukherjee, S; Demmert, M; Sheak, JR; Benson, D; Kitzmiller, J; Chougnet, CA; Jobe, AH; Deshmukh, H; Zacharias, WJ. Science Translational Medicine. 2022; 14:eabl8574.


IL-10-producing Tfh cells accumulate with age and link inflammation with age-related immune suppression. Almanan, M; Raynor, J; Ogunsulire, I; Malyshkina, A; Mukherjee, S; Hummel, SA; Ingram, JT; Saini, A; Xie, MM; Alenghat, T; Dent, AL; Holscher, C; Chougnet, C; Hildeman, DA. Science Advances. 2020; 6:eabb0806.


Pulmonary Consequences of Prenatal Inflammatory Exposures: Clinical Perspective and Review of Basic Immunological Mechanisms. Jackson, CM; Mukherjee, S; Wilburn, AN; Cates, C; Lewkowich, IP; Deshmukh, H; Zacharias, WJ; Chougnet, CA. Frontiers in Immunology. 2020; 11:1285.


111: IL-1 signaling mediates IL-6 expression at the maternal-fetal interface during intrauterine inflammation (IUI). Roland, C; Senthamaraikannan, P; Chougnet, CA; Jobe, AH; Kallapur, SG. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2018; 218:s80.


High density lipoproteins selectively promote the survival of human regulatory T cells. Rueda, CM; Lucia Rodriguez-Perea, A; Moreno-Fernandez, M; Jackson, CM; Melchior, JT; Davidson, WS; Chougnet, CA. Journal of Lipid Research. 2017; 58:1514-1523.


Pro-inflammatory immune responses in leukocytes of premature infants exposed to maternal chorioamnionitis or funisitis. Jackson, CM; Wells, CB; Tabangin, ME; Meinzen-Derr, J; Jobe, AH; Chougnet, CA. Pediatric Research. 2017; 81:384-390.


Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Chorioamnionitis Promotes IL-1-Dependent Inflammatory FOXP3+ CD4+ T Cells in the Fetal Rhesus Macaque. Rueda, CM; Presicce, P; Jackson, CM; Miller, LA; Kallapur, SG; Jobe, AH; Chougnet, CA. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2016; 196:3706-3715.


Loss of Phagocytic and Antigen Cross-Presenting Capacity in Aging Dendritic Cells Is Associated with Mitochondrial Dysfunction. Chougnet, CA; Thacker, RI; Shehata, HM; Hennies, CM; Lehn, MA; Lages, CS; Janssen, EM. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2015; 195:2624-2632.

From the Blog

Claire Chougnet Named as Inaugural Margaret K. Hostetter Endowed Chair
Autoimmune Disorders

Claire Chougnet Named as Inaugural Margaret K. Hostetter Endowed Chair

Claire A. Chougnet, PhD8/3/2021