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 et al., 2022 – ATVB; Erewele et al., 2022 – Pulm Circ). PAH is a life-threatening disease highly incident in women, characterized by the hyperproliferation of vascular cells, which eventually obstructs the lung vasculature leading to irreversible lesions, elevated pulmonary pressure, and right ventricular hypertrophy. Among the signaling pathways that contributes to PAH onset, deficiency of the endoprotective BMPR2 receptors in the lung vasculature significantly contribute to the hyperactivation of profibrotic TGF-β and severe vascular remodeling. Although the primary cause of non-infectious PAH is not fully clear, several studies indicate that it results from chronic pulmonary inflammation. Curiously, infection by the intravascular parasite Schistosoma mansoni recapitulates several aspects of widespread 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, which cross the intestinal wall achieving the gut’s lumen or other organs, such as the lungs and liver, increasing its pressure. Liver bypass via collateral circulation can alleviate the 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; Oliveira, 2022 – under review). 

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 and transiently impairs NK cell activity (Fehr, Neff, Oliveira, et al., 2022 – under review). Moreover, we identified 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 sepsis survival. Sepsis affects millions of patients worldwide and has high mortality. Thus, it is important to determine the molecular mechanisms of this clinical condition to develop novel therapeutic approaches its 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 Publication

Pulm Circ 2022

Erewele et al discuss the role of BMPR2+/R899X mutation for sex-linked PAH.

Senior Investigator’s Award

Mari Castellon

Mari received the UIC Award of Merit. Congratulations Mari!

PI Award

SharkTank Winner

Dr. Oliveira won the 3CPR shark tank competition at the AHA Scientific Sessions!

New Member

Ygor Marinho

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

Upcoming Events

16th Int. Symposium on Schistosomiasis

2023 Vascular Discovery is coming!

2023 American Thoracic Society Conference

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