Division of Clinical Immunology & Allergy

John Bienenstock


Distinguished University Professor, Pathology and Molecular Medicine,
Molecular Medicine

Associate Member, Medicine

Director, The Brain Body Institute (BBI)

Former Dean and Vice-President, Faculty of Health Sciences

Former Chair, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine

Administrative Assistant: Lori Burch


Education and Professional Standing

FRSC, 1992
FRCP, 1980
FRCP(C), 1976
MRCP, Royal College of Physicians (UK), 1964
MBBS, King's College and Westminister Hospital Medical School (UK), 1960

Research Interests

Dr. Bienenstock has published more than 380 peer reviewed articles and other publications. He has authored, edited and co-edited several books including the standard text on mucosal immunology, now in its third edition. He is known best for his work in mucosal immunity in which he pioneered the concept of a common mucosal immune system and developed the first full description of bronchus associated lymphoid tissue (BALT) and its involvement in the mucosa associated lymphoid tissue system of the body. His more recent work has related to an elucidation of mechanisms of allergy, mucosal immunology, and most particularly, the interactions between mast cells and other cells of the immune system with the nervous system.

Current work tries to begin to explain the mechanisms of action of probiotic organisms through study of their interactions with intestinal epithelial cells and uses many molecular and cell biological approaches in vitro and in vivo. Continuing study of communication pathways between mast cells and nerves in co-culture represents another long-term interest.

As Director of the new Brain-Body Institute at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Dr. Bienenstock is developing a group of neuroscientists and imagers together with several colleagues in Radiology, Psychiatry, Gastroenterology and Respirology. The BBI includes an unusual imaging facility (Imaging Research Centre) which has a functional 3T MRI and unique wide field of view PET. The objective of this new institute is to have an integrated approach to the study of the role of the brain and nervous system in regulation of somatic disease. Research interests include functional disorders, depression, asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. The BBI has purpose-built facilities in imaging and within the year will occupy new laboratory space in the new tower under construction at St. Joseph’s.

Selected Publications

  1. Mucosal Immunology, 3rd Edition. (eds. Mestecky J, Lamm ME, Strober W, Bienenstock J, McGhee JR). Elsevier, UK, 2003.
  2. van der Kleij H, Blennerhassett MG, Bienenstock J. (2003): Mast cells and nerve interactions. In: Autonomic Neuroimmunology. Ed. by Bienenstock J, Goetzl E, Blennerhassett MG. Taylor and Francis, London, pp.139-170.
  3. van der Kleij H, Ma D, Redegeld FAM, Kraneveld AD, Nijkamp FP, Bienenstock J. (2003): Functional expression of neurokinin 1 receptors on mast cells induced by IL-4 and SCF. J Immunol 171:2074-2079.
  4. Bienenstock J, Wiley RE, Neigh GS, Waserman S, Keith P. (2002): Probiotics in the management and prevention of atopy. Clin Rev Aller Immunol 22:275-285.
  5. Ma D, Wolvers DAW, Stanisz A, Bienenstock J. (2003): Interleukin-10 and nerve growth factor have reciprocal upregulatory effects on intestinal epithelial cells. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 284:R1323-R1329.
  6. Leigh R, MacQueen G, Tougas G, Hargreave FE, Bienenstock J. (2003): Change in forced expiratory volume (FEV1) in 1 second after a sham bronchoconstrictor in suggestible, but not suggestion-resistant, asthmatic patients: a pilot study. Psychosom Med 65:1-5.
  7. Mori N, Suzuki R, Furuno T, McKay DM, Wada M, Teshima R, Bienenstock J, Nakanishi M. (2002): Nerve-mast cell (RBL) interaction: RBL membrane ruffling occurs at the contact site with an activated neurite. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 283:C1738-C1744.
  8. Suzuki R, Furuno T, McKay DM, Wolvers D, Teshima R, Nakanishi M, Bienenstock J. (1999): Direct neurite mast cell communication in vitro occurs via the neuropeptide substance P. J Immunol 163:2410-2415.