Acute lung injury (ALI) and the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) are common disorders affecting more than 200,000 individuals per year. While research driven advances in the supportive care of patients with ALI/ARDS have improved clinical outcomes, the rates of morbidity and mortality for these patients remains unacceptably high and specific therapies have proven elusive. Influenza A infection can result in ALI and ARDS. The epithelium is damaged during infection, which affects gas exchange due to the release fluid and protein into the alveolar space. The underlying means by which infection induces the inflammatory response is unknown. Our research aims to determine how the alveolar epithelium alone and in coordination with inflammatory cells such as alveolar macrophages in the lung contribute to the development of acute lung injury during influenza A infection. We have designed careful gain and loss-of-function experiments that use murine genetics to target putative genes/proteins/pathways involved in the development of acute lung injury in specific cells and tissues. Our work on this project is to perform reliable, reproducible and complementary measurements to determine the severity of the resulting lung injury.
GR Scott Budinger, MD