Krithika Lingappan, M.D.
Baylor College of Medicine
Protein May Play Role in Preventing Lung Problems in Premature Babies
Our research is aimed at preventing bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature babies by identifying new therapeutic targets. We will be studying the protein GDF15 (Growth-differentiation factor 15), which is believed to reduce inflammation, prevent cell death and increase blood vessel growth. We will investigate the role of GDF15 in neonatal lung injury to unravel the underlying mechanism. We will study whether mice lacking the gene for GDF15 have more lung injury. We will also investigate whether and how mice carrying the human gene for GDF15 are protected. These experiments will help us understand the role of this gene in the developing lung, thereby identifying a novel therapeutic target to improve lung health in premature babies.
Update: We are unraveling the interaction between GDF15 and crucial genes that drive lung development and blood vessel growth in the premature lung. We have shown that this protein is increased in the lungs of newborn mice when their lungs are injured. We hope to continue experiments to delineate the role of this protein in newborn lung injury and repair.