Mark D. Okusa
Primary AppointmentProfessor, Medicine: Nephrology
Mechanisms of renal injury
My laboratory is interested in innate and adaptive immunity in acute and chronic kidney injury. Dendritic cells play an early role in activation of lymphocytes through antigen presentation of peptides to T cells or glycolipids to natural killer T cells. Through an understanding of the mechanisms that participate in the early activation and modulation of tissue injury we have developed pharmacological and cell based approaches to block these pathways. We use a variety of molecular, cell biological and immunological methods and in vivo models in our studies. (1) Kidney ischemia-reperfusion injury: In vivo studies are aimed at determining the contribution of immune cells to ischemia-reperfusion injury and therapeutic strategies to reduce injury following acute kidney injury with the ultimate goal of bringing novel compounds to clinical trials. Current studies target adenosine 2A receptors and sphingosine 1 phosphate receptors as potential therapeutic approaches to block inflammation and tissue injury. These studies have led to a better understanding of the mechanisms of T cell activation by ischemia-reperfusion and tolerance induction by adenosine 2A compounds. (2) Diabetic nephropathy: Our approach is to understand the immune mechanisms of injury in diabetic nephropathy and use novel compounds to reduce functional and morphological consequences of diabetic nephropathy.