Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells (PNECs)
Pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (PNECs) are a rare group of epithelial cells found in the airways. Known for stimuli sensing capabilities, their other functions remain a mystery. The lab aims to characterize the role of PNEC in neuro-immuno-endocrine regulation of lung health. To this end, human in-vitro models derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and primary tracheal cells are used.
PROJECTS ON LUNG BRAIN AXIS
Pulmonary microbes influence immune responses along the lung–brain axis. Characterization of these microbes help in understanding their role in modulating neuro-immune pathways involves in lung-brain communication and maintenance of lung health. The lab uses In-house Nanopore microbiome sequencing to characterize lung and gut microbiome in mouse models used to study microbiome-lung-brain communication.
Gut microbes and the post-natal environment
Communication between gut microbes and the central nervous system (CNS) plays a role in modulating brain function, behaviour and mood. However, there is still limited understanding of the specific mechanisms and pathways involved in microbiota-gut-brain signaling or how microbes can be used to therapeutic effect in mood disorders. Our lab is investigating the relationships between environmental stressors, gut microbes and brain function in the early post-natal period with a focus on maternal behavior. We also aim to identify microbe-based strategies to mitigate the detrimental effects of stress that could have therapeutic applications in mood disorders including post-partem depression.
Asthma and Mood Disorders
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease characterized by recurrent airway obstruction hyperresponsiveness and mucus overproduction. Having asthma is associated with a higher prevalence of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, while asthmatics with a mood disorder are more likely to have to poorly controlled and more severe lung disease. There is evidence of a biological basis for this relationship between asthma and mood disorders. Our lab is investigating neuro-immune pathways underlying the influence of lung inflammation on brain chemistry and behaviour that will inform future approaches to asthma treatment.