My laboratory’s research integrates the study of monocytes, monocyte-derived cells, and dendritic cells with vascular and lymphatic vessel biology. We have pioneered assays to study migration of these immune cells to lymph nodes in various tissues, and our work on tracking monocytes has led to advances in understanding the relationship of monocytes to the dendritic cell system in vivo. We have also developed assays to study the differentiation and migration of human monocytes and dendritic cells across vascular and lymphatic barriers. Current studies examine the recruitment of monocytes to sites of acute and chronic inflammation (e.g., atherosclerotic plaques) and then follow the fate of these cells thereafter. A major focus is on understanding the mechanisms and consequences of monocyte conversion into dendritic cells that subsequently emigrate from tissues through lymphatic vessels. We are investigating the possibility that alterations in the ability of monocyte-derived cells to emigrate out of tissues affects the persistence or chronicity of inflammatory diseases, in particular atherosclerosis. Through our studies on the migration of monocyte-derived dendritic cells and other dendritic cells through lymphatic vessels, we have also taken a keen interest in the functional properties of lymphatic vessels and the adipose tissue that surrounds them. We are thus branching out to explore crosstalk between immune cells and lymphatics and how these interactions might affect lymphatic function, immune and inflammatory responses, and adipose tissue.
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