Coronary and cerebrovascular disease remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the US, afflicting more than 1.8 million Americans each year. Ischemic injury following vascular occlusion is often dictated by the extent and remodeling of pre-existing pial collateral or "by-pass" vessels. Our overall goal is to improve collateral remodeling and to understand how this influences the microenvironment in which neurons repair themselves. Novel insights into this important adaptive response will help advance collaterotherapeutics for neurorestoration after stroke.
Promoting vascular remodeling has emerged as a potential therapeutic approach for neurorestorative therapy. Cerebral vascular trauma leads to inadequate cerebral blood flow which potentiates neuronal cell loss resulting in motor and cognitive deficits in models of brain injury. Endothelial cells lining the blood vessels actively respond to tissue trauma. Our novel findings demonstrate, cell-to-cell contact proteins called Eph receptors are present on cerebral arterioles and play a central role in limiting vascular function following traumatic brain injury.
Virginia Tech is launching a $2.6 million study to determine if traumatic brain injuries can cause changes within the brain that lead to epilepsy. Funded by the nonprofit Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) and the U.S. Department of Defense, the three-year study seeks to identify the root causes behind why a person may develop epilepsy after he or she has suffered brain trauma, including sports-related concussion and focal contusion injuries.