Welcome to the

Vascular Immunobiology Lab

Principal investigator: Dr. Oliveira

Our Research

Pathogen-associated Inflammatory Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Diseases

S. mansoni egg (green) interaction with pulmonary endothelial cells. White: Cav-1; Red: VE-cad; Blue: nuclei. Note a Cav-1+EV at the bottom.

Murine plasma extracellular vesicles were isolated and loaded into a Nanoparticle Analyzer (Nanosight) to quantify particle concentration and size.

Pulmonary Vascular Diseases, especially Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), have been the focus of our research effort (Oliveira et al., 2017 – AJP-Lung; Oliveira et al., 2019 – ATVB; Oliveira 2022 – ATVB; Erewele et al., 2022 – under review). PAH is a life-threatening disease characterized by the hyperproliferation of vascular cells, including endothelial cells. The hyperproliferation of vascular cells eventually obstructs the lung vasculature leading to irreversible lesions that collectively drive up the pulmonary pressure to life-threatening levels. PAH has a sex bias, being about 3 times more incident in women than men, but the cause remains under extensive investigation. Among the signaling pathways that contribute to the development of the disease, deficiency of the endo-protective BMPR2 receptors in the lung vasculature has been shown to significantly contribute to the hyperactivation of profibrotic TGF-β, leading to severe vascular remodeling. Finally, although the primary cause of non-infectious PAH is not fully understood, several studies indicate that it results from chronic pulmonary inflammation. Curiously, infection by the parasite Schistosoma mansoni recapitulates aspects of widespread pulmonary inflammation that lead to PAH, providing a unique model where molecular alterations leading to vascular cell hyperproliferation can be unraveled and hopefully leveraged for the development of clinical solutions for PAH.

Additional Scientific Interests

The Gut-Mesentery-Lung Axis

Schistosomiasis-associated PAH evolves in response to S. mansoni egg-associated obliteration and remodeling of the lung vasculature, which can lead to heart failure and death. Primarily, the parasites lay their eggs into the mesenteric circulation, either crossing the intestinal wall to achieve the gut’s lumen or allocating it to other organs, such as the lungs and liver, increasing its pressure. Liver bypass via collateral circulation can alleviate the parasite-induced pressure in the portal system, but it also allows the translocation of eggs, toxins, and antigens into the lungs, ultimately causing PAH. Understanding how these systems communicate is essential to uncover the onset and prevent the progression of chronic diseases (OLIVEIRA, 2022 – ATVB). 

Anesthesia & Inflammation

In collaboration with our peers, we observed that sevoflurane, a volatile anesthetic, is a protective agent during sepsis-induced inflammation and vascular injury. More specifically, we helped to identify that sevoflurane exposure leads to inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression in macrophages, contributing to killing bacteria in the peritoneal cavity and helping to improve survival during sepsis-induced inflammation. Sepsis affects millions of patients worldwide, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. Thus, it is important to determine the molecular mechanisms of this clinical condition to develop potential novel therapeutic approaches to reduce sepsis-associated mortality (GERBER*, FEHR*, OLIVEIRA**, et al. 2019 – Anesthesiology).

Virtual Science Communication

Virtual platforms have arisen as a unique tool for science dissemination while also uncovering new challenges, including the speed at that misleading information spreads. Undeniably, the diffusion of complex scientific findings in an accessible way is challenging, but it is also a powerful strategy to combat false information. This scenario indicates the need to uncover new strategies for leveraging the virtual environment to promote scientific findings. More importantly, it suggests that new initiatives are required to combat science mistrust, particularly strategies that stimulate more effective communication among the scientific and non-scientific community as a whole (ALFAIDI*, ZHANG*, OLIVEIRA*, 2022 – ATVB – GD col.: Casanova).

Latest News

New Member

Ygor Marinho

Dr. Marinho is a postdoc research associate who is joining the team! Welcome, Ygor!

Funding Award

UIC HEPP 2022 CD Award

We have been awarded the 2022 UIC HEPP Diversity Career Development Award!

New Publication

ATVB 2022

Drs. Alfaidi, Zhang, & Oliveira discuss how COVID-19 led to virtual networks in science.

Student’s Scholarship

Lizzy Villarreal

Lizzy got the Liberal Arts & Science Undergrad Research Initiative Scholarship!

Upcoming Events

AHA Scientific Sessions 2022

15th Annual World Congress on PVD

16th Int. Symposium on Schistosomiasis

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