Dr. Dritan Agalliu
Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the formation of the blood–brain barrier in the central nervous system (CNS) and the mechanisms of barrier breakdown in a variety of CNS diseases. These diseases include stroke and autoimmune diseases having symptoms that include blood-brain barrier failure, using a variety of genetic, molecular, cellular and imaging approaches. We have developed novel mouse strains that allow us to visualize changes in structural components of the blood–brain barrier, namely tight junctions and caveolae, in living animals for several CNS diseases (e.g., stroke and multiple sclerosis) in order to understand the cellular mechanisms underlying barrier impairment in these neurological disorders. In addition, we are investigating the role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in the development of the CNS vasculature and formation of the blood–brain barrier, and we are exploring the role of this pathway in repairing the barrier in diseases where its function is compromised (e.g., stroke and autoimmune disorders). Finally, we are investigating the mechanisms of immune cells entry into the CNS in a novel animal model for a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by multiple Streptococcus pyogenes infections, in order to understand how immune cells induce neurovascular, synaptic and behavioral deficits in the brain.