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, 2018, 2019; Erewele, Castellon, Loya et al., 2022). PAH is a life-threatening disease highly incident in women, characterized by pulmonary vasoconstriction and vascular remodeling, which elevates the mean pulmonary arterial pressure and leads to right ventricular hypertrophy. Among the signaling pathways contributing to PAH onset, deficiency of pulmonary BMPR2 expression contributes to the hyperactivation of profibrotic TGF-β and vascular remodeling. Although the primary cause of PAH is not fully clear, 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

After infection, adult S. mansoni lays its eggs in the mesenteric circulation, which crosses the intestinal wall achieving the gut’s lumen or other organs, such as the liver, increasing its pressure. Liver bypass via collaterals alleviates the pressure in the portal system, but it also allows the translocation of eggs, toxins, & antigens into the lungs, ultimately causing Schistosomiasis-associated PAH. Understanding how these systems communicate is essential to uncover the onset & prevent the progression of vascular diseases (Oliveira, 2022a; 2022b). 

Anesthesia & Inflammation

In collaboration with our peers, we observed that sevoflurane, a volatile anesthetic, is protective during sepsis-induced inflammation & transiently impairs NK cell activity. Moreover, we identified that sevo promotes the expression of iNOS in macrophages, killing bacteria in the peritoneal cavity & helping improve sepsis survival. Sepsis affects millions of patients worldwide and has high mortality; determining its molecular mechanisms is crucial to developing or repurposing therapeutic approaches (Gerber*, Fehr*, Oliveira** et al., 2019).

Virtual Science Communication

Virtual platforms have arisen as a unique tool for science dissemination while uncovering new challenges. Undeniably, the diffusion of complex findings in an accessible way is challenging, but it is also a powerful strategy to combat the spread of misleading news. This scenario indicates the need for leveraging the internet to promote scientific findings & for new initiatives to combat scientific mistrust by stimulating communication among scientific & non-scientific community as a whole (Alfaidi*, Zhang*, Oliveira*, 2022 – GD col.: Casanova).

Latest News

New Publication


Cardiopulmonary Pathogenic Networks: Gut-Lung Microbiome Axis in PAH!

New Award


Omar Loya received the UIC Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Award!

New Publication

Pulm Circ 2022

Erewele, Castellon, Loya, et al. discuss BMPR2+/R899X mutation and sex-linked PAH!