Karen Stokes , Ph.D.
Ph.D., 2004 - Trinity College Dublin
Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
LSU Health Sciences Center
1501 Kings Highway
Shreveport, LA 71130
Phone: 318- 675-8420
My Lab has two key areas of interest, both related to cardiovascular disease and the microvasculature:
1) Recent epidemiological studies have revealed that infectious agents, for example cytomegalovirus (CMV), may contribute to cardiovascular disease. This virus induces an inflammatory and thrombogenic phenotype in isolated cells, and we have evidence that CMV also induces endothelial dysfunction in arterioles in vivo. Furthermore, we have shown CMV exacerbates hypercholesterolemia- and mild obesity-induced leukocyte and platelet recruitment in postcapillary venules, and synergizes with hypercholesterolemia to worsen thrombosis. Therefore our focus is to investigate the underlying mechanisms involved in the detrimental microvascular responses to CMV, as well to understand how CMV synergizes with other cardiovascular risk factors in the generation of a pro-inflammatory phenotype. In particular, we are interested in how platelets, through interaction/communication with neutrophils, monocytes and endothelial cells, participate in CMV-induced microvascular alterations.
2) Diabetes is a significant risk factor in the clinical outcome of cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke. Elevated blood glucose and reactive carbonyl species (RCS) such as methylglyoxal (MG) are characteristic features of diabetes. RCS are potent cross-linking agents that can target and modify the brain microvascular endothelium, and cause vascular inflammation and thrombosis. In addition RCS can directly glycate proteins of leukocytes and platelets, which could contribute to inflammatory and thrombotic responses. We are investigating the role of MG in both the enhanced risk for stroke and the worse outcome following stroke in diabetes. By manipulating components of the MG elimination pathway we will determine if targeting one or more steps could provide protection against stroke in diabetics.