Carlos Serezani, PhD

Immune cells called alveolar macrophages (AM) are on the front line of defense against microbes that cause pneumonia. These cells are responsible for recognizing, ingesting and killing microbes. Dr. Serezani is studying how these cells function, with the hope that the results will lead to better treatments for pneumonia.

Pneumonia-causing bacteria are present in some healthy throats. When body defenses are down, due to causes such as old age, malnutrition, or transplantation, the bacteria can multiply and cause serious damage. Usually, when a person's resistance is lowered, bacteria work their way into the lungs and inflame the air sacs.

With the help of an American Lung Association Senior Research Training Fellowship, Dr. Serezani studied substances called lipid mediators, such as leukotrienes, which can enhance macrophage function during body's fight against pneumonia. Lipid mediators are produced when the body is fighting an inflammatory condition or an infection. They improve clearance of bacteria and boost the immune system's response.

He investigated what happens to the AMs of mice infected with Klebsiella pneumonia when they are treated with leukotrienes. He focused on cell receptors that send signals to direct the activity of AMs. He identified a novel interaction between two types of receptors involved in increasing the microbe-fighting ability of AMs. His findings provide new insights into the immune defenses in the lung.

The American Lung Association Senior Research Training Fellowship allowed Dr. Serezani to apply for and receive a Career Development grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, to further his research.