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CSU Researchers Identify Key Cellular Protection against Inflammation

Could be key to developing therapies to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke

Inflammation is a cellular defense mechanism that involves immune cells of the human immune system and is necessary to protect against infection or penetrating tissue injury. Inflammation must be carefully controlled however, because chronic inflammation due to errors in this defense mechanism can lead to numerous diseases, including heart disease and stroke.

A research team led by Barsanjit Mazumder, Ph.D., a member of CSU’s Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease and a Professor of Molecular Genetics in the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, has uncovered new information about how cells protect against inflammation, which could greatly enhance the development of therapies designed to reduce the risk of disease.

“Human cells have natural protection systems that ‘shut off’ inflammation if it becomes damaging to the body,” says Mazumder. “Our team identified, for the first time, a specific key to these systems, a ribosomal protein called L13a, which blocks the synthesis of inflammatory molecules leading to reduced inflammation in cells. This discovery could lead to the development of specific therapies, promoting L13a-dependent inflammation resolution in cells where natural protection systems have been weakened.”

Utilizing a genetically engineered animal model, Mazumder’s team regulated the levels of L13a protein to analyze its specific impact on inflammation. Tests showed that subjects without the protein developed significantly higher levels of inflammation, leading directly to increased incidence of disease, heart attack and stroke. Moving forward, the team hopes to further investigate how L13a specifically impacts different types of cellular inflammation and how that inflammation impacts disease development in humans.

The research team has been awarded a $1.45 million RO1 Research Project Grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to further its research efforts. Mazumder first received NIH funding in 2005 and this is his second competitive renewal award through the RO1 Research Project Grant program through NIH.

“Continuation of these types of NIH grants is very competitive,” notes Jerzy Sawicki, PhD., Vice President of Research for Cleveland State. “The continued support of Dr. Mazumder’s work illustrates the novel nature of the research and its significant impact on human health”.