My research focuses on the neurovascular responses, in particular as it relates to the pathological processes after brain trauma. I am also interested in the actions of neuregulin-1, an endogenous growth factor, within the neurovascular unit. NRG1 is known to be important in the function of neurons and glia, but its activity in endothelial cells is not as well defined. My goals were to 1) determine whether NRG1 plays significant roles in the biology of brain microvascular endothelial cells; and 2) to investigate the neuroprotective potential of NRG1 in brain trauma. Data from my experiments demonstrated that NRG1 has key functions in brain microvascular cells; in particular, NRG1 prevents endothelial hyper-permeability due to cytokine injury, a significant finding given the many pathological processes that stem from microvascular hyper-permeability during CNS and systemic illness.
The microvascular endothelium is instrumental in many processes in the brain, including oxygen delivery, barrier function, and response to inflammation. After brain trauma, microvasculature disturbances lead to increased permeability, vasoconstriction, and capillary occlusion, events which amplify the primary insult. An understanding of these endothelial responses to injury is important in the investigation of neuroprotective strategies during brain injury. This topic forms one major area of my research.
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