Tracy Toliver-Kinsky, Ph.D.

Publications (Pubmed)

Affiliations: Department of Anesthesiology, Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology: Shriners Hospitals for Children Galveston Burn Unit
Tel: (409) 770-6610
ttoliver@utmb.edu
Route: 0591
614 Shriners Hospital for Children

 

 

Tracy Toliver-Kinsky, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Severe burn patients are susceptible to nosocomial infections that can delay wound healing, increase hospitalization time, and lead to sepsis. Despite aggressive infection control, sepsis remains a leading cause of mortality in patients that survive the initial burn trauma. This is due not only to loss of the skin as a protective barrier, but also to burn-induced perturbations in numerous immune responses. The main goals of our research are to understand the mechanisms by which severe burn injury increases susceptibility to infections, and to investigate immunomodulatory strategies that may increase resistance to infections after trauma.

Current research efforts are focused on the use of a dendritic cell (DC) growth factor, fms-like tyrosine kinase-3 ligand (Flt3L), as a prophylactic treatment after burn injury to enhance immune function and decrease susceptibility to infections. DCs are antigen presenting cells that reside in tissues that frequently encounter pathogens and, upon recognition of microorganisms, trigger responses that are central in the activation and regulation of both innate and acquired immunities. Therefore, stimulation of DC production and/or functions after burn injury may increase resistance to infections. We have found that treatment with this cytokine increases resistance burn-associated infections  by enhancing Th1 cytokine responses and neutrophil-mediated clearance of bacteria.  This protection is dependent upon both DCs and neutrophils, and we have found that Flt3L-modified DCs enhance neutrophil migratory capacity. Current projects are investigating the cellular and molecular responses of DCs to Flt3L signaling, and the mechanisms by which DCs enhance neutrophil migratory capacity.  Another area of investigation is the role of DCs in wound healing.