Sharon Celeste Morley, MD, PhD

Affiliate Faculty | 2018 SEED Grant Recipient

2018 SEED project summary:  Specialized immune cells in the lung, called alveolar macrophages, control how much inflammation the lungs generate after inhalation of an irritant (like smoke) or a germ. Deciding how much inflammation to cause is important. If the lungs don’t generate enough inflammation, the body won’t be able to clear the irritant or germ. If the lungs generate too much inflammation, the healthy tissue can be damaged. Our laboratory studies a protein in the alveolar macrophage, called L-plastin, which helps the macrophages stick to the lung tissue. We propose that one-way alveolar macrophages decide how much inflammation to cause is by sensing lung stiffness—healthy lungs are very soft, but diseased lungs get very stiff. We also propose that L-plastin is a protein that helps the macrophages sense lung stiffness. Our CEMB project investigates how L-plastin helps the alveolar macrophages sense stiffness and how sensing stiffness helps the macrophages decide how much inflammation to cause.

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