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Department of Immunology
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46mckenna.jpg Kyle C. McKenna , Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology
911 EEINS (lab)
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Phone: 412.802.8437
Fax: 412.647.5880
Faculty Research Interests
Research Interests
Research in the McKenna Laboratory is aimed at understanding mechanisms of immune evasion by tumors developing within the eye. It is now well appreciated that tumors express immunogenic proteins (antigens) which induce antigen-specific CD8+ cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses. Vaccination of cancer patients with tumor antigens further increases the magnitude of these CTL responses. However, tumor regression occurs infrequently in vaccinated patients suggesting CTL responses are somehow inhibited. Understanding the mechanisms of CTL inhibition within the tumor microenvironment is critical for the success of tumor vaccines and is our primary focus.

We have developed a transplantable tumor model in mice which is ideal for understanding mechanisms of CD8+ CTL inhibition within the ocular-tumor microenvironment because tumors grow progressively in the eye despite priming for robust systemic tumor-specific CD8+ CTL responses. The failure to eliminate ocular tumors correlates with the accumulation of CD11b+ cells in the eye which inhibit CD8+ CTL responses in vitro. Accordingly, we hypothesize that immunosuppressive CD11b+ cells in the ocular tumor microenvironment are responsible for immune evasion by tumors developing within the eye.

Current research projects include studies aimed at understanding: (1) the mechanism of CTL inhibition by ocular tumor associated myeloid cells, (2) the requirements for migration of CD11b+ cells into the tumor microenvironment, and (3) the efficacy of immunotherapies which target immunosuppressive myeloid cells to promote tumor elimination.

We have also created a transgenic mouse in which an oncogene is conditionally expressed in melanocytes by targeted drug delivery. Additional characterization of this mouse strain will determine whether this strain represents an inducible model of uveal and cutaneous melanoma.
  • Ph.D. University of Maryland, Baltimore (1999)
  • Postdoc Emory University (1999- 2003)
    Academic Affiliation
  • Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Assistant Professor of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
    Selected Publications
  • McKenna, K. C., Beatty KM, Vicetti Miguel R, and RA Bilonick. 2009. Delayed processing of blood increases the frequency of activated CD11b+ CD15+ granulocytes which inhibit T cell function. J. Immunol. Meth. 34:68-75

  • McKenna KC, Beatty KM, Bilonick RA, Schoenfield, L, Lathrop KL, and A.D. Singh. 2009. Activated CD11b+ CD15+ granulocytes increase in the blood of patients with uveal melanoma. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 50:4295-4303

  • McKenna KC, Kapp JA. Accumulation of Immunosuppressive CD11b+ Myeloid Cells Correlates with the Failure to Prevent Tumor Growth in the Anterior Chamber of the Eye. J Immunol 177:1599. 2006.

  • McKenna KC, Kapp JA. CD8+ T cell tolerance induced by delivery of antigen to the anterior chamber is not the result of de facto intravenous or mucosal administration of antigen. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 13:149. 2005.

  • McKenna KC Kapp JA. Ocular Immune Privilege and CTL tolerance. Immunol Res 29:13. 2004. (Review)

    PubMed Link
    Title: Experimental Uveal Melanoma and Ocular Immune Privilege
    Agency: NIH/ NEI
    Role: P.I.
    Funding Period: 2006-2008
    Lab Personnel
    Research III
    Kelly Beatty

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