Dr. Joe McGillis, Dr. Beth Garvey, and Dr. David Feola

Dr. Joe McGillis, Dr. Beth Garvey, and Dr. David Feola

Monthly Research Publication Highlight reveals new insight into the impact of pneumonia-causing pathogens on host defense and chronic lung disease

May 05, 2017

The UK College of Pharmacy Research Publication Highlight for April 2017 was published in Immunobiology and is titled, “Pneumocystis infection alters the activation state of pulmonary macrophages”.

The project is a collaborative effort between the UK Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.   The study’s lead author is Jessica Deckman a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Beth Garvy in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics (MIMG) in the College of Medicine.  Cathryn Kurkjian, a graduate student in the Garvy lab and Dr. McGillis, a faculty member in MIMG also contributed to the work.  Graduate students in the Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics Program, Ted Cory and Susan Birket, participated in the project under the direction of the study’s senior author, Dr. David Feola, from the Department of Pharmacy Practices and Sciences in the UK College of Pharmacy.  Dr. Brian Murphy and medical student Linda Schutzman from the Department of Internal Medicine also assisted in the completion of the project.

Pneumonia is a common complication of pulmonary disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or cystic fibrosis.  Pulmonary macrophages are immune cells within the lung that play a critical role in the body’s defense against airway infections.  The authors of the present study probed the impact of different types of pneumonia-causing pathogens on macrophage function in a mouse model of airway infections.  Their results indicate that the type of pathogens present in the lung influence macrophage function as well as their response to subsequent infections.  These changes may not only affect the body’s ability to fight infections, but may also contribute to the decline in lung function observed in patients with chronic lung disease. 

“This manuscript is the product of a great deal of work by several teams here at UK and sheds new light on the impact of lung pathogens on our body’s defenses against pulmonary infection and the progression of lung disease.” said Greg Graf, Assistant Dean for Translational Research.