Shunsuke Sakai, Ph.D.

T-Lymphocyte Biology Section

NIH Main Campus, Bethesda, MD

Shunsuke Sakai, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

Contact: For contact information, search the NIH Enterprise Directory.

Specialty(s): Allergy and Immunology, Infectious Disease

Shunsuke Sakai, Ph.D.

Major Areas of Research

  • Mechanisms of T cell dependent host resistance and immunopathology in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection
  • Study of the early events that determine the establishment of M. tuberculosis infection
  • Volumetric imaging of M. tuberculosis-infected tissues to visualize immune cells in tissues in three-dimension

Program Description

Dr. Sakai’s major scientific goals are to understand how the host immune response suppresses growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the lungs without leading to excessive tissue damage. He is a leading expert in the design and execution of in vivo cellular immunology experiments using mice models of M. tuberculosis infection to develop hypotheses that can be further explored in larger animal species including non-human primates.




Ph.D., 2011, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan

Dr. Sakai received his Ph.D. in 2011 from the Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan. In 2012, he joined the T-Lymphocyte Biology Section led by Dr. Daniel Barber in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, NIAID as a Visiting Fellow and he was appointed to the position of Staff Scientist in 2018.

Selected Publications

Sakai S, Lora NE, Kauffman KD, Dorosky DE, Oh S, Namasivayam S, Gomez F, Fleegle JD; Tuberculosis Imaging Program, Arlehamn CSL, Sette A, Sher A, Freeman GJ, Via LE, Barry Iii CE, Barber DL. Functional inactivation of pulmonary MAIT cells following 5-OP-RU treatment of non-human primates. Mucosal Immunol. 2021 Sep;14(5):1055-1066. 

Kauffman KD, Sakai S, Lora NE, Namasivayam S, Baker PJ, Kamenyeva O, Foreman TW, Nelson CE, Oliveira-de-Souza D, Vinhaes CL, Yaniv Z, Lindestam Arleham CS, Sette A, Freeman GJ, Moore R; NIAID/DIR Tuberculosis Imaging Program, Sher A, Mayer-Barber KD, Andrade BB, Kabat J, Via LE, Barber DL. PD-1 blockade exacerbates Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in rhesus macaques. Sci Immunol. 2021 Jan 15;6(55):eabf3861. 

Sakai S, Kauffman KD, Oh S, Nelson CE, Barry CE 3rd, Barber DL. MAIT cell-directed therapy of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Mucosal Immunol. 2021 Jan;14(1):199-208. 

Barber DL, Sakai S, Kudchadkar RR, Fling SP, Day TA, Vergara JA, Ashkin D, Cheng JH, Lundgren LM, Raabe VN, Kraft CS, Nieva JJ, Cheever MA, Nghiem PT, Sharon E. Tuberculosis following PD-1 blockade for cancer immunotherapy. Sci Transl Med. 2019 Jan 16;11(475):eaat2702. 

Sakai S, Kauffman KD, Sallin MA, Sharpe AH, Young HA, Ganusov VV, Barber DL. CD4 T Cell-Derived IFN-γ Plays a Minimal Role in Control of Pulmonary Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection and Must Be Actively Repressed by PD-1 to Prevent Lethal Disease. PLoS Pathog. 2016 May 31;12(5):e1005667. 

Sakai S, Kauffman KD, Schenkel JM, McBerry CC, Mayer-Barber KD, Masopust D, Barber DL. Cutting edge: control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection by a subset of lung parenchyma-homing CD4 T cells. J Immunol. 2014 Apr 1;192(7):2965-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1400019. 

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