Biological Sciences

Jean C. Pfau, Ph.D.

Jean C. Pfau

Associate Professor


Biographical Sketch

Dr. Pfau joined the faculty in Biological Sciences at Idaho State University in the fall of 2008. Her experience and training have given her a broad background in cell biology, physiology, and specifically in mammalian immunology and the diseases that develop when immune responses are abnormal.

Our lab focuses on autoimmune responses, which is when our immune system causes or contributes to tissue damage, leading to autoimmune diseases. Systemic autoimmune diseases appear to be increasing in prevalence worldwide, and one possibility is that this is being driven by environmental exposures, in concert with genetic factors. It is well known that silica exposure is associated with increased risk of systemic autoimmune diseases such as lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis, but much less is known about autoimmune responses with asbestos exposure. The asbestos exposures that occurred in Libby MT due to vermiculite mining has provided us with an opportunity to explore that association and the cellular/molecular mechanisms that drive autoimmunity and subsequent pathologies. We hypothesize that the molecular structure or intracellular localization of autoantigens is modified through oxidative or apoptotic processes, improperly exposing them to the immune system and inducing production of autoantibodies to those antigens. Possible outcomes of the autoantibodies are a) systemic autoimmune diseases, or b) worsening of the lung damage leading to fibrosis and pleural disease. We are also trying to discover exactly what the targets are for those autoantibodies, and how they might modify cellular function to exacerbate tissue damage. Such discoveries could lead us to novel treatments for these devastating diseases.


Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications

Manuscripts (Undergraduate students are underlined; Graduate student in italics)

Germolec, D., D.H. Kono, J.C. Pfau, K.M. Pollard. 2012. Animal Models Used to Examine the Role of the Environment in the Development of Autoimmune Disease. J. Autoimmunity 39(4):285-93.

Overocker, J. and J.C. Pfau. 2012. Cytokine Production Modified by System Xc- After PM10 and Asbestos Exposure. Journal of Young Investigators 23(6):34-39.

Pfau, J.C., T. Seib, J. Overocker, J. Roe, A. Ferro. 2012. Functional expression of System xc- is upregulated by asbestos but not crystalline silica in murine macrophages. Inhalation Toxicology, 24(8):476-85.

Marchand, L.S., S. St-Hilaire, E.A. Putnam, Kinta M. Serve, J.C. Pfau. 2012. Anti-Mesothelial Cell and Anti-Nuclear Autoantibodies Associated with Pleural Abnormalities in an Asbestos Exposed Population: Libby MT. Toxicology Letters, 208:168-173.

Rasmussen, D.L. and J.C. Pfau. 2012.Asbestos activates CH12.LX B lymphocytes via macrophage signaling. J Immunotox. 9(2):129-40.

Pfau, J.C., S. Holland, S. Li, J. Sentissi. 2011. Alteration of fibroblast phenotype by asbestos-induced autoantibodies. J Immunotox, 8(2):159-69.

Bunderson-Schelvan, M., J. Pfau, R. Crouch, A. Holian. 2011. Non-Pulmonary Outcomes of Asbestos Exposure. Jrnl Tox Env Health: Critical Reviews, Part B, 14(1):122-52.

Bearden, S.E., R.S. Beard Jr, and J.C. Pfau. 2010. Extracellular Transsulfuration Generates Hydrogen Sulfide from Homocysteine and Protects Endothelium From Redox Stress. Am Jrnl Phys - Heart and Circulatory Physiology 299(5):H1568-76.

Cooper, G., K. Gilbert, E. Greidinger, J. James, J. Pfau, B. Richardson, N. Rose, B. Tsao. 2008. Recent Advances and Opportunities in Research on Lupus: Environmental Influences and Mechanisms of Disease. Environ Health Perspect. 116(6):695-702.

Blake, D.J., S.A. Wetzel, J.C. Pfau. 2008. Autoantibodies from mice exposed to Libby amphibole asbestos bind SSA/Ro52-enriched apoptotic blebs of murine macrophages. Toxicology 246(2-3):172-179.

Pfau, J.C., J.J. Sentissi, D.J. Blake, S. Li, L. Calderon-Garciduenas, J.M. Brown. 2008. Asbestos-induced autoimmunity in C57Bl/6 mice. Jrnl Immunotoxicol 5(2):129-137.

Noonan, C.W., J.C. Pfau, T.C. Larson, M.R. Spence. 2006. Nested case-control study of autoimmune disease in an asbestos exposed population. Environ Health Perspectives 114(8):1243-1247.

Pfau, J.C., J.J. Sentissi, G. Weller, and E.A. Putnam. 2005. Assessment of Autoimmune Responses Associated with Asbestos Exposure in Libby MT. Environ Health Perspectives 113(1):25-30.

Brown, J.M., J.C. Pfau, M.A. Pershouse, A. Holian. 2004. Silica, apoptosis, and autoimmunity. (Review article) J. Immunotoxicology. 1:177-188.

Pfau, J.C., J.M. Brown, and A. Holian. 2004. Silica-exposed mice generate autoantibodies to apoptotic cells. Toxicology 195(2-3):167-76.

Brown, J.M, A.J. Archer, J.C. Pfau, and A. Holian. 2003. Silica accelerated systemic autoimmune disease in New Zealand Mixed mice. J Clinical Exp Immunol 131:415-421.

Book Chapters

Pfau, J.C. 2012. Rheumatoid Arthritis. In: Immunotoxicity, Immune Dysfunction, and Chronic Disease, Chapter 7. Edited by Robert Luebke and Rod Dietert. Humana Press.

Noonan, C.W. and J.C. Pfau. 2011. Asbestos Exposure and Autoimmune Disease. In: Jerome Nriagu (Editor-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of Environmental Health, volume 1, pp. 193-203, Burlington: Elsevier.

Pfau, J.C., D.J. Blake, M.J. Fritzler. 2009. Autoantibody Profiles of an Asbestos-Exposed Population. In: Autoimmunity: Role, Regulation and Disorders, Chapter 11:245-268. NOVA Science Publishers.


921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, 83209