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Your Environment. Your Health.

Matrix Biology Group

Cell-Matrix Interactions

Stavros Garantziotis, M.D.
Stavros Garantziotis, M.D.
Medical Director, NIEHS Clinical Research Unit, and Principal Investigator
Tel (919) 541-9859
Fax (919) 541-9854
garantziotis@niehs.nih.gov
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop CU-01
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

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Hyaluronan is released during lung injury, and leads to inflammation and lung disease. Certain hyaluronan types can be used to break this vicious cycle and treat airway disease.
Figure 1. Hyaluronan is released during lung injury, and leads to inflammation and lung disease. Certain hyaluronan types can be used to break this vicious cycle and treat airway disease.
Different signaling pathways of hyaluronan in the airway smooth muscle cell.
Figure 2. Different signaling pathways of hyaluronan in the airway smooth muscle cell.

Research Summary

Stavros Garantziotis, M.D., is Medical Director of the NIEHS Clinical Research Unit (CRU), head of the Matrix Biology Group, and holds a secondary appointment in the Clinical Research Branch. The group studies cell-matrix interactions in the response to environmental lung injury.

Extracellular matrix (ECM) and cells are in a constant feedback relationship during development and in the tissue response to injury. Cells actively modify their ECM in the course of development, differentiation and inflammation. On the other hand, ECM can be directly altered through environmental stimuli, and the ECM milieu affects cell behavior, function and survival. Our group investigates this relationship—particularly the role of the ECM component hyaluronan—in relation to the lung response to environmental injury.

Hyaluronan is an abundant ECM component, and can affect cell development, scar formation, angiogenesis and inflammation. Hyaluronan is released during environmental lung injury and sets in motion signaling responses which lead to airway inflammation, hyperresponsiveness, scarring and ultimately clinical symptoms like wheezing, cough and shortness of breath (Figure 1). The Matrix Biology Group has studies and identified signaling pathways of hyaluronan after injury (Figure 2). The group utilizes mouse models of disease, and clinical research in a “bench-to bedside-to bench” approach for high impact results.. Importantly, we have identified several agents that can modify hyaluronan signaling and have potential as treatment for airway disease, and are in the process of testing their efficacy in pilot clinical studies.

Major areas of research:

  • The role of hyaluronan in the pulmonary response to environmental injury
  • Mechanisms, through which cells sense their ECM during injury
  • Clinical translation of our results into novel treatment options

Garantziotis obtained his medical degree at the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg, Germany. After an internship in Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in Munich, Germany, he completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, New York, and received his Board Certification in Internal Medicine. He then completed a fellowship in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and received Board Certification in Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care Medicine. Garantziotis remained a faculty member in the Division until he joined the NIEHS to set up and supervise the new CRU. In addition to his role as Principal Investigator and medical Director of the CRU, he was Acting Clinical Director from 2013-2015 and is currently Deputy Chief of the Clinical Research Branch.

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