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Kelly N. Messingham, PhD

Research Associate Professor of Dermatology

Contact Information

2080C Medical Laboratories (ML)
500 Newton Rd
Iowa City, IA 52242


BS, Biology, Iowa State University
MS, Immunology and Preventive Medicine, Iowa State University
PhD, Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Loyola University
Postdoctoral Fellow, Microbiology, University of Iowa

Research Summary

My research interests focus on the regulation of immunity within the skin. These studies primarily utilize the autoimmune blistering disease Bullous pemphigoid (BP) as a model of human autoimmunity. BP is mediated by autoantibodies specific for proteins, BP180 or type XVII collagen, involved in anchoring the epidermal keratinocytes to the underlying dermis. These BP180-specific autoantibodies are thought to mediate blister formation by propagating inflammation within the skin and activating a variety of immune cells that then release proteases, which lead to tissue destruction. A main focus of this work, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Janet Fairley, is to unravel the unique contribution of IgE-class autoantibodies in the development and progression of BP lesions. Other studies focus on evaluating the direct effects of antibodies on keratinocyte structure and function. These studies will help us understand the role of keratinocytes in the regulation of immunity and inflammation within the skin. Finally, we have begun to examine the regulatory components of the skin immune system to better understand how BP develops.


Scorza, B., Wacker, M., Messingham, K., Kim, P., Klingelhutz, A., Fairley, J. & Wilson, M. (In Press). Differential Activation of Human Keratinocytes by Leishmania spp. Causing Localized or Disseminated Disease. JID.

Messingham, K. N., Randall, G. & Fairley, J. (2016). Exploring mechanisms of IgE-mediated autoimmunity through the lens of Bullous pemphigoid. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. PMID: 26959553.

Messingham, K. N., Wang, J. W., Holahan, H. M., Srikantha, R., Aust, S. C. & Fairley, J. A. (2016). Eosinophil localization to the basement membrane zone is autoantibody- and complement-dependent in a human cryosection model of bullous pemphigoid. Exp Dermatol, 25(1), 50-5. PMID: 26475989.

Messingham, K. N., Holahan, H. M., Frydman, A. S., Fullenkamp, C., Srikantha, R. & Fairley, J. A. (2014). Human eosinophils express the high affinity IgE receptor, FceRI, in bullous pemphigoid. PLoS One, 9(9), e107725. PMID: 25255430.

Yu, K. K., Crew, A. B., Messingham, K. A., Fairley, J. A. & Woodley, D. T. (2014). Omalizumab therapy for bullous pemphigoid. J Am Acad Dermatol. PMID: 24954907.

Messingham, K. A., Holahan, H. M. & Fairley, J. A. (2014). Unraveling the significance of IgE autoantibodies in organ-specific autoimmunity: lessons learned from bullous pemphigoid. Immunol Res. PMID: 24845463.

Swick, B., Srikantha, R. & Messingham, K. N. (2013). Characterization of C-KIT and PDGFR-alpha expression and mutational status in Merkel cell carcinoma. J Cut Path, 40(7), 623-30. PMID: 23621836.

Swick, B. L., Srikantha, R. & Messingham, K. N. (2013). Specific analysis of KIT and PDGFR-alpha expression and mutational status in Merkel cell carcinoma. J Cutan Pathol, 40(7), 623-30. PMID: 23621836.

Fairley, J. A., Bream, M., Fullenkamp, C., Syrbu, S., Chen, M. & Messingham, K. N. (2013). Missing the Target: characterization of bullous pemphigoid patients who are negative using the BP180 enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay. J Am Acad Dermatol, 68(3), 395-403. PMID: 23083837.

Messingham, K. N., Pietras, T. & Fairley, J. A. (2012). The Role of IgE in Bullous Pemphigoid: A Review and Rationale for IgE Directed Therapies. G Ital Dermatol Venereol, 147(3), 251-7 Invited Review. PMID: 22648326.

Messingham, K. A., Onoh, A. L., Vanderah, E. A. & Fairley, J. A. (2012). Functional characterization of an IgE-class monoclonal antibody specific for the bullous pemphigoid autoantigen, BP180. Hybridoma (Larchmt)., 31(2), 111-17. PMID: 22509915.

Messingham, K. A., Srikantha, R., DeGueme, A. M. & Fairley, J. A. (2011). FcR-independent effects of IgE and IgG autoantibodies in bullous pemphigoid. J Immunol, 187(1), 553-60. PMID: 21646296.

Noe, M. H., Messingham, K. A., Brandt, D. S., Andrews, J. I. & Fairley, J. A. (2010). Pregnant women have increased incidence of IgE autoantibodies reactive with the skin and placental antigen BP180 (type XVII collagen). J Reprod Immunol, 85(2), 198-204. PMID: 20471095.

Messingham, K. A., Noe, M. H., Chapman, M. A., Giudice, G. J. & Fairley, J. A. (2009). A novel ELISA reveals high frequencies of BP180-specific IgE production in bullous pemphigoid. J Immunol Meth, 346(1-2), 18-25. PMID: 19422829.

Fairley, J. A., Baum, C., Brandt, D. & Messingham, K. A. (2008). Pathogenicity of IgE in Autoimmunity: Successful Treatment of Bullous Pemphigoid with Omalizumab. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 123(3), 704-5. PMID: 19152970.

Messingham, K. A., Badovinac, V. P., Jabbari, A. & Harty, J. T. (2007). A role for IFN-gamma from antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in protective immunity to Listeria monocytogenes. J Immunol, 179(4), 2457-66. PMID: 17675507.

Plackett, T. P., Colantoni, A., Heinrich, S. A., Messingham, K. A., Garnelli, R. L. & Kovacs, E. J. (2007). The early acute phase response after burn injury in mice. J Burn Care Res, 28(1), 167-72. PMID: 17211221.

Badovinac, V. P., Messingham, K. A., Griffith, T. S. & Harty, J. T. (2006). TRAIL deficiency delays, but does not prevent, erosion in the quality of "helpless" memory CD8 T cells. J Immunol, 177(2), 999-1006. PMID: 16818756.

Badovinac, V. P., Messingham, K. A., Jabbari, A., Haring, J. S. & Harty, J. T. (2005). Accelerated CD8+ T-cell memory and prime-boost response after dendritic-cell vaccination. Nat Med, 11(7), 748-56. PMID: 15951824.

Kovacs, E. J., Faunce, D. E. & Messingham, K. A. (2004). Ethanol and burn injury: estrogen modulation of immunity. Alcohol, 33(3), 209-16. PMID: 15596089.

Hamilton, S. E., Porter, B. B., Messingham, K. A., Badovinac, V. P. & Harty, J. T. (2004). MHC class Ia-restricted memory T cells inhibit expansion of a nonprotective MHC class Ib (H2-M3)-restricted memory response. Nat Immunol, 5(2), 159-68. PMID: 14745446.

Messingham, K. A., Badovinac, V. P. & Harty, J. T. (2003). Deficient anti-listerial immunity in the absence of perforin can be restored by increasing memory CD8+ T cell numbers. J Immunol, 171(8), 4254-62. PMID: 4530349.

Badovinac, V. P., Messingham, K. A., Hamilton, S. E. & Harty, J. T. (2003). Regulation of CD8+ T cells undergoing primary and secondary responses to infection in the same host. J Immunol, 170(10), 4933-42. PMID: 12734336.

Heinrich, S. A., Messingham, K. A., Gregory, M. S., Colantonic, A., Ferreira, A. M., Dipietro, L. A. & Kovacs, E. J. (2003). Elevated monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 levels following thermal injury precede monocyte recruitment to the wound site and are controlled, in part, by tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Wound Repair Regen, 11(2), 110-9. PMID: 12631298.

Messingham, K. A., Faunce, D. E. & Kovacs, E. J. (2002). Alcohol, injury, and cellular immunity. Alcohol, 28(3), 137-49. PMID: 12551755.

Kovacs, E. J., Messingham, K. A. & Gregory, M. S. (2002). Estrogen regulation of immune responses after injury. Mol Cell Endocrinol, 193(1-2), 129-35. PMID: 12161012.

Messingham, K. A., Heinrich, S. A., Schilling, E. M. & Kovacs, E. J. (2002). Interleukin-4 treatment restores cellular immunity after ethanol exposure and burn injury. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 26(4), 519-26. PMID: 11981129.

Kovacs, E. J., Messingham, K. A. (2002). Influence of alcohol and gender on immune response. Alcohol Res Health, 26(4), 257-63. PMID: 12875035.

Messingham, K. A., Heinrich, S. A. & Kovacs, E. J. (2001). Estrogen restores cellular immunity in injured male mice via suppression of interleukin-6 production. J Leukoc Biol, 70(6), 887-95. PMID: 11739551.

Messingham, K. A., Shirazi, M., Duffner, L. A., Emanuele, M. A. & Kovacs, E. J. (2001). Testosterone receptor blockade restores cellular immunity in male mice after burn injury. J Endocrinol, 169(2), 299-308. PMID: 11312147.

Durbin, E. A., Gregory, M. S., Messingham, K. A., Fontanilla, C. V., Duffner, L. A. & Kovacs, E. J. (2000). The role of interleukin 6 in interferon-gamma production in thermally injured mice. Cytokine, 12(11), 1669-75. PMID: 11052818.

Fontanilla, C. V., Faunce, D. E., Gregory, M. S., Messingham, K. A., Durbin, E. A., Duffner, L. A. & Kovacs, E. J. (2000). Anti-interleukin-6 antibody treatment restores cell-mediated immune function in mice with acute ethanol exposure before burn trauma. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 24(9), 1392-9. PMID: 11003205.

Colantoni, A., Duffner, L. A., DeMaria, N., Fontanilla, C. V., Messingham, K. A., Van Thiel, D. H. & Kovacs, E. J. (2000). Dose-dependent effect of ethanol on hepatic oxidative stress and interleukin-6 production after burn injury in the mouse. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 24(9), 1443-8. PMID: 11003212.

Messingham, K. A., Fontanilla, C. V., Colantonic, A., Duffner, L. A. & Kovacs, E. J. (2000). Cellular immunity after ethanol exposure and burn injury: dose and time dependence. Alcohol, 22(1), 35-44. PMID: 11109026.

Choudhry, M. A., Messingham, K. A., Namak, S., Colantoni, A., Fontanilla, C. V., Duffner, L. A., Sayeed, M. M. & Kovacs, E. J. (2000). Ethanol exacerbates T cell dysfunction after thermal injury. Alcohol, 21(3), 239-43. PMID: 11091027.

Young, M. R., Wright, M. A., Lathers, D. M. & Messingham, K. A. (1999). Increased resistance to apoptosis by bone marrow CD34(+)progenitor cells from tumor-bearing mice. Int J Cancer, 82(4), 609-15. PMID: 10404079.

Wiers, K. M., Lozano, Y., Messingham, K. A., Metz, R. J. & Young, M. R. (1997). 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 activates T cells of tumor bearers through protein phosphatase 2A. Cancer Immunol Immunother, 44(2), 97-102. PMID: 9177471.

Chou, S. H., Kojic, L. D., Messingham, K. N. & Cunnic, J. (1996). Characterization of the effect of 2-deoxy-D-glucose(2-DG) on the immune system. Brain Behav Immun, 10(4), 399-416. PMID: 9045754.