The major goal in our laboratory is to understand the relationship between inflammatory diseases of the cornea and lymphatic vessel remodeling. Lymphatic vessels provide an egress of interstitial fluid and improve the capacity for pathogen surveillance by directing interstitial fluid and leukocytes towards regional lymph nodes. Lymphatic vessel growth occurs in response to inflammation and lymphatic vessel regression occurs during wound healing. The primary focus of our lab is to understand how changes in lymphatic vessel remodeling contribute to corneal health during inflammatory conditions.
We have a strong interest in understanding how extracellular matrix (ECM)/integrin interactions support and regulate lymphatic vessel remodeling. Integrins are a major class of cell surface receptors that integrate ECM/cell interactions. We hypothesize that members of the integrin family mediate signals required for lymphatic vessel growth and regression.
Integrin regulated lymphatic vessel growth and regression
These studies are designed to understand how α and β integrins regulate lymphatic vessel growth or regression. We use several approaches including in vitro studies and an in vivo corneal experimental model to address these questions.
Construction of a lymphatic specific conditional knock mouse
The goal of this project is the development of a genetically modified mouse strain using CRE/LOX technology that will enable us to temporally induce deletion of β1 integrin in lymphatic endothelium in the adult mouse. We will coordinate β1 integrin deletion with lymphatic vessel growth or regression to determine the effects of β1 integrin deletion on these processes and corneal health.
MHC II positive cells (green) in corneal lymphatic vessel (red).