A pair of OMRF scientists has made new findings related to blood vessel function and inflammation, key factors in infections as well as a host of conditions from cancer to kidney and autoimmune disease.
The findings by Lijun Xia, M.D., Ph.D., and Rodger McEver, M.D., could point the way to the development of new methods for preventing and treating bacterial and viral infections.
Xia discovered a new way that lymph nodes, which act as monitors and filters for pathogens that enter the body, respond to challenges to the immune system.
“We found that a particular molecule called podoplanin is essential in making lymph nodes regulate their environment so more white blood cells, the body’s infection fighters, can come in during inflammation or following vaccination,” said Xia, who holds the Merrick Foundation Chair in Biomedical Research at OMRF.
“In the future, these findings may help us make vaccines more efficient or enable us to develop new therapies to help the body fight pathogens and infections.”
Xia also found how a common form of protein modification plays an important role in protecting podoplanin in lymphatic vessels, which is important for transporting immune cells.
“Using these results, we can move toward developing therapies that help maintain healthy vessel function during inflammation or immune responses,” said Xia, who published his new findings in the journals Blood and Nature Immunology.
Other OMRF scientists who contributed to Xia’s research are Yanfang Pan, Tadayuki Yago, Jianxin Fu, Kai Song, Yuji Kondo, Brett Herzog, Mike McDaniel and Hong Chen.
McEver, whose findings appear in the journal Science, has discovered a new interaction involved in the body’s response to inflammation. McEver was a contributor to the research, which was led by Andres Hidalgo from the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares in Madrid, Spain.
“Inflammation results in the recruitment of white blood cells to a place to combat infections or deal with injury,” said McEver, who holds OMRF’s Alvin Chang Chair in Cardiovascular Biology. “In this new study, we were able to show that platelets, blood cells that protect against bleeding, can facilitate an inflammatory response in a particular way not seen until now.”
These findings could prove beneficial in helping to reduce collateral injuries caused by the immune system’s response to injuries or infections.
“Drs. Xia and McEver continue to do important work and are a testament to the high caliber of research underway here at OMRF,” said OMRF Vice President of Research Paul Kincade, Ph.D. “Research like this takes time and dedication while opening doors to a wide range of possible discoveries.”
Funding for Xia’s research was provided by grants P01HL085607 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and GM103441 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. McEver’s research was funded by grants HL034363 and HL085607 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. All four grants are funded by the National Institutes of Health.