Welcome to the
Vascular Immunobiology Lab
Principal investigator: Dr. Oliveira
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. PAH is a life-threatening disease with no cure, characterized by 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. Although the primary cause of non-infectious PAH is not fully understood, several studies indicate 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 into 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 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 & Vascular Diseases
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 a more effective communication among the scientific and non-scientific community as a whole (by Drs. ALFAIDI*, ZHANG*, OLIVEIRA*; GD support: Pedro Casanova).
Omar is an undergrad & L@S GANAS Fellow who is joining the team! Welcome Omar!
Lizzy got the Liberal Arts & Science Undergraduate Research Initiative Scholarship!
Dr. Oliveira discusses aspects of the gut-mesentery-lung axis in the development of PAH.
We have been awarded a K01 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)!