Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PERIF (Perivascular cells at the crossroads of inflammation, regeneration and fibrosis)
Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2020-04-30
Nearly half of all deaths in industrialized world are due to diseases involving inappropriate, often chronic, inflammatory and fibrotic responses, including chronic lung, kidney and liver diseases, scleroderma, inflammatory bowel diseases, muscular dystrophies, cardiovascular diseases, and desmoplastic tumors. However, our current knowledge of the biological processes regulating fibrosis is partial, which has hindered therapeutic advances in the field. Recent data from our team and others drew new attention on a discrete population of mesenchymal cells that wraps around vessels, variously called mural cells, perivascular cells or pericytes, as a major source for profibrotic stromal cells generating scar tissue. Previously known for their vascular protective functions, increasing evidence suggests new and unexpected roles for these cells also in inflammation, repair/regeneration, and cancer. These new findings raise a number of challenging questions relative to their functional diversity, and mechanisms of activation/ regulation in disease.
The overall objectives of this project are to improve our understanding of the repair process, and identify new cellular partners in the perivascular niche and molecular pathways that lead to dysregulated repair and fibrosis. In the long term, this project may pave the way for the development of novel (co)-therapeutic strategies in inflammatory diseases, regenerative medicine and cancer.