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Research Program

Department of Anesthesiology – 2006
Tracy Toliver-Kinsky, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

The main goals of our re-search are to understand the mechanisms by which severe burn injury increases susceptibility to infections, and to investigate immunomodulatory strategies that may increase resistance to infections after trauma. Current research efforts are focused on the use of a hemopoietic cytokine and dendritic cell growth factor, fms-like tyrosine kinase-3 ligand (Flt3L), as a prophylactic treatment after burn injury to stimulate the production of new progenitor cells that give rise to dendritic cells. Our hypothesis is that stimulation of dendritic cell production and/or functions after burn injury can increase resistance to infections. We have found that treatment with this cytokine increases survival in a model of burn wound infection, decreases bacterial growth and spread, and enhances Th1 cytokine responses to systemic bacterial challenge. We are currently examining the effects of Flt3L on dendritic cell functions and the role that dendritic cells may play in wound healing. In vivo models of experimental injury and infection are employed to assess local and systemic responses by a variety of molecular, cel-lular, and immunological techniques. By integrating multiple aspects of whole animal biology, we hope to gain insight into the mechanisms by which severe burn injury impacts immune function and to develop potential immunomodulatory interventions to prevent infections after burn injury.