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Hrishikesh Kulkarni, M.D.

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Washington University in St. Louis
Maintaining Airway Epithelial Cell Survival and Host Defense in Severe Pneumonia
Biomedical Research Grant
Supported by the Mary Fuller Russell Research Fund

Pneumonia is a main cause of death in the U.S., even with antibiotics. 6 of every 100 hospital admissions are for pneumonia. Severe pneumonia causes acute respiratory distress syndrome. We are investigating how the complement system, an important component of the host immune response, modulates survival of epithelial cells lining the airways in the context of bacterial pneumonia.

Update: We have been studying the role of the C3 protein in airway epithelial cell death, specifically how C3 protects these cells from death. During the first year of this award, we have determined that C3 produced by airway epithelial cells has a distinct, protective role compared to the form that is present in the circulation, primarily generated by the liver. The fact that locally produced C3 in the lung can be harnessed to facilitate airway epithelial cell survival in the context of pneumonia-induced lung injury opens up novel avenues for mitigating pneumonia severity.

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