G. Edward and G. Britton Durell Professor of Ophthalmology
The Wilmer Eye Institute
Phone: (410) 955-6750
The laboratory of Professor Gerard “Jerry” Lutty, Ph.D. studies the development of blood vessels in the eye and how they change in diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinopathy of prematurity (ROP; formerly called retrolental fibroplasia or RLF), and sickle cell and diabetic retinopathies. Dr. Lutty believes that a better understanding of the normal development and function of blood vessels will result in a greater understanding of what happens to them in disease processes like AMD. One group of diseases, called ischemic retinopathies, which includes diabetic and sickle cell retinopathies, occurs because blood vessels in the retina become blocked or occluded by cells sticking to the to endothelial cells, which line the blood vessel wall. This change in blood flow causes the neural tissue in retina to have insufficient nutrients and oxygen, i.e. become ischemic. Ischemic retina or choroid, in the case of AMD, releases substances that stimulate the growth of abnormal new blood vessels (neovascularization), which can leak and break and eventually can cause blindness. Dr. Lutty’s lab studies the factors that stimulate new blood vessels, angiogenic factors, and naturally occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis, antiangiogenic factors. The ultimate goal of the lab is to develop therapies to stop the blood vessels from being blocked in ischemic retinopathies and inhibit the growth of neovascularization in retina and choroid.
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Angiogenic and anti-angiogenic growth factors
The involvement of angiogenic and anti-angiogenic factors in vasculogenic and angiogenic processes in the eye using immunochemistry, enzyme histochemistry, in situ hybridization, and in vitro cell assays. Vasculogenic and angiogenic processes of interest include diabetic and sickle cell retinopathies, retinopathy of prematurity, and corneal neovascularization.
Angioblasts or vascular precursors
Substances that drive their differentiation into endothelial cells within retina and how this process is affected by hyperoxia. Determine if both the primary and secondary retinal vasculature develop by aggregation and differentiation of angioblasts.
The generation and effects of oxygen radicals in reperfusion events like retinopathy of prematurity and myocardial infarction. Determine if oxygen radicals are generated during microwave interaction with melanin and visual pigments.
Vaso-occlusion mechanisms that cause nonperfusion of the retinal and choroidal vasculatures in diabetic and sickle cell retinopathy
The mechanisms under investigation are imbalance in components of the fibrinolytic system, increased aggregation and adhesiveness of platelets, adhesion of sickled erythrocytes in sickle cell disease, and neutrophil adhesion to endothelium in choroid and retina.