Smooth Muscle Mechanics and Lyme Disease Laboratory

Lab head: Dr Brent McParland
Location: Blackburn Building

The Smooth Muscle Mechanics Laboratory studies mechanics and mediators which influence narrowing of the airways in respiratory disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive lung disorders.

Lyme disease studies focus on proving whether Australian ticks harbour the disease-causing pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi.  This is extremely important with regards to clinical practice and what action is taken if someone is bitten by a tick.  It is our mission to provide some answers.

Lab members: Lyme Disease Collaborators: Dr Ann Mitrovic and Ann Cincotta
Funding: Karl McManus Foundation currently provides funding
Research approach equipment: Airway Mechanics: in vitro organ bath methods in order to determine the relationship between airway structure and function (disease alters structure and consequently function). Availability of asthmatic tissue is very scarce, however, cells can be propagated using cell culture. Cell function can then be assessed by inserting them into a gel matrix and contracting them to mediators the can narrow airways, such as histamine. Using this method we can alter proteins within the cell in oder to determine their role in contraction. Lyme Disease: Currently we are extracting DNA from ticks and probing it using primers to target different parts of the Borrelia genome using PCR. We will also be culturing bacteria from the ticks in order to collect sufficient DNA for genomic sequencing. If our ticks do contain Borrelia, it may be a strain brought here from overseas recently or it may be one that had been here for a long time.

1. Trian T, Moir LM, Ge Q, Burgess JK, Kuo C, King NJC, et al. Rhinovirus-Induced Exacerbations of Asthma How Is the beta(2)-Adrenoceptor Implicated? American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology 2010;43(2):227-33.

2. Matsumoto H, Moir LM, Oliver BGG, Burgess JK, Roth M, Black JL, et al. Comparison of gel contraction mediated by airway smooth muscle cells from patients with and without asthma. Thorax 2007;62(10):848-54.

3. Herrera AM, McParland BE, Bienkowska A, Tait R, Pare PD, Seow CY. 'Sarcomeres' of smooth muscle: functional characteristics and ultrastructural evidence. Journal of Cell Science 2005;118(11):2381-92.

4. McParland BE, Pare PD, Johnson PRA, Armour CL, Black JL. Airway basement membrane perimeter in human airways is not a constant; potential implications for airway remodeling in asthma. Journal of Applied Physiology 2004;97(2):556-63.

Discovering the elusive epithelial-derived hyperpolarising factor

Primary supervisor: Brent McParland

The reason why the airways of asthmatics narrow excessively is not known.  We believe that some mechanisms involved in airway relaxation may be impaired.  The epithelial cells that line the airways appear to release mediators that can decrease contraction of the airway smooth muscle.  This study will investigate how effective the epithelial-derived mediator(s) is/are at inhibiting the effect of contractile mediators such as histamine and acetylcholine.  The effectiveness will be compared with other relaxing factors such as prostaglandin E2 and adrenergic agonists (adrenaline, isoprenaline, salbutamol).

Discipline: Pharmacology