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Hunter Laboratory

The Hunter Laboratory investigates the pathogenesis of intestinal diseases of the child and newborn. We have a particular interest in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a devastating disease of infants and results in up to an 80% death rate in the sickest patients. Our goals are to understand why some patients are susceptible to disease (while others are not), and to identify the molecular events that result in NEC. By fulfilling these aims, we hope to find therapeutic interventions to prevent and cure disease. NEC impacts 5% of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit, and may have long lasting effects of survivors. Treatment remains challenging. It is crucial that we fill this knowledge gap with basic and translational research.

Current Projects

Our team has identified several key molecular events involved in NED, including Rho kinase and protein kinas A pathways. Using tissue engineering techniques, we have developed a model of NEC to study this disease in human-derived enteroids (intestinal spheres). We are very interested in the role of intestinal barrier function and tight junction proteins in modulating susceptibility to NEC. Our work with lead to novel strategies for the management and treatment of NEC.

Key Publications

  1. Buonpane C, Yuan C, Wood D, Ares G, Klonoski S, Hunter C. ROCK1 Inhibitor Stabilizes E-cadherin and Improves Barrier Function in Experimental Necrotizing Enterocolitis. American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. February 2020. PMID: 32090605.
  2. Ares G, Buonpane CL, Yuan C, Wood D, Hunter CJ. A novel human epithelial enteroid model of necrotizing enterocolitis.  JOVE.  April 2019. PMID: 31033943.
  3. Ares G, Buonpane C, Sincavage J, Yuan C, Wood D, Hunter CJ. Caveolin 1 is associated with upregulated claudin 2 in necrotizing enterocolitis. Scientific Reports. March 2019. PMID: 30899070.
  4. Grothaus J, Ares G, Yuan C, Wood D, Hunter CJ.  Rho Kinase Inhibition Maintains Intestinal and Vascular Barrier Function by Upregulation of Occludin in Experimental Necrotizing Enterocolitis. American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.  June 2018.  PMID: 29927318.
  5. Blackwood BP, Wood DR, Yuan C, Nicolas J, De Plaen IG, Farrow KN, Chou P, Turner JR, Hunter CJ.  A role for cAMP and PKA in experimental necrotizing enterocolitis.  American Journal of Pathology.  Dec 2016: PMC5389366.
  6. Grothaus J, Ares G, Yuan C, Wood D, Hunter CJ.  Rho Kinase Inhibition Maintains Intestinal and Vascular Barrier Function by Upregulation of Occludin in Experimental Necrotizing Enterocolitis. American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. June 2018. PMC6230694

Laboratory Members

  • Catherine Hunter, MD | Associate Professor of Surgery
  • Xue Cai, PhD | Research Associate
  • Camille Schlegel, BS | Research Technologist
  • Heather Liebe, MD | Postdoctoral Fellow

Contact

Principal Investigator: Catherine Hunter, MD

Email: Catherine-hunter@ouhsc.edu

Twitter: @cjhunter18