Stephen I. Rennard Lab


Our laboratory focuses on the cellular mechanisms that underlie altered tissue structure in lung disease, particularly with regard to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We currently focus on mesenchymal cell functions as they relate to tissue remodeling and repair specifically, and to the inflammatory response in general. Epithelial and endothelial cell functions are also evaluated as they relate to specific questions. A major focus is on the alterations in functional phenotype that characterize cells from patients with disease compared to controls. We are currently investigating the mechanistic basis for these differences as well as the differentiation processes that give rise to them. These goals are approached with a number of methods that include assessment of cell function in monolayer and 3-dimensional culture, chemotaxis, proliferation and apoptosis, gene and protein expression and immunohistology. Specific areas being evaluated include: characterization of the functional phenotypes of mesenchymal cells in the airways versus alveolar structures and between patients with COPD versus controls, determination of the role played by mesenchymal cells in the altered inflammatory response that characterizes COPD, molecular mechanisms for altered eicosanoid production in cells from patients with COPD, molecular mechanisms for altered SMAD signaling, cross-talk between prostaglandin receptors, epithelial and endothelial mesenchymal transition, and differentiation of fibroblasts from stem/precursor cells including the ability of cytokines to modify the differentiation process from embryonic stem cells and from induced pluripotent stem cells. We also provide support for ongoing clinical studies. This includes quantification of biomarkers by ELISA, and assessment of cells recovered by BAL, endobronchial biopsy and induced sputum.