Mechanisms of Lung Vascular Autophagy and Inflammation
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved cellular process that facilitates the continuous recycling of intracellular components (organelles and proteins) and provides an alternative source of energy when nutrients are scarce. Recent studies have implicated autophagy in several inflammatory diseases involving aberrant endothelial cell responses such as ALI. However, the mechanistic link between autophagy and EC dysfunction, and the relevance of this linkage in the pathogenesis of ALI remain poorly understood. Our lab is using a systematic and comprehensive approach to uncover the mechanistic basis of endothelial cell autophagy and its relationship with endothelial cell inflammation and barrier disruption in the setting of ALI. For this purpose, we are investigating the role of key autophagy proteins (Beclin1, ATG7, LC3, and LAMP1/2) involved in various stages of autophagy in these processes and their viability as therapeutic targets in ALI.