Dr. Gabriele Grunig's major focus points of research are to define the role of secreted proteins by which immune cells communicate with the cells that make up the structure of the lungs. This research has previously identified one of these mediators, called Interleukin-13 (IL-13), to directly initiate the processes that induce the cardinal signs of asthma: bronchial constriction, inflammation and increased mucus production. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/282/5397/2261 At the present time, drugs are being developed that inhibit Interleukin-13 or it's ability to communicate with other cells.
Dr. Gabriele Grunig and her colleagues have most recently shown for the first time experimentally that the immune response can induce severe wall-thickening of arteries (structure stained in brown by labeling with a smooth muscle specific antibody) in the lungs. In addition, the studies showed that Interleukin-13 (IL-13) is a critical, indirect communicator in the process that leads to the severe thickening of the pulmonary arterial walls http://www.jem.org/cgi/content/abstract/jem.20071008v1.
thickening of the pulmonary arterial walls has been described in
patients who have pulmonary hypertension, a debilitating disease. The severely thickened lung arteries are also seen in cats and dogs with
heart-worm infection. Dr. Gabriele Grunig's research might aid in developing new methods to follow disease progression and tailor treatment strategies in patients with pulmonary hypertension.