Research in Gastrointestinal Physiology at NC State University involves collaborations between Physiology and Cell Biology faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine campus, and with faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill via the NIH-funded Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease.
Current studies funded by the NIH and USDA are focused on the mechanisms whereby intestinal mucosa recovers from either an infectious or ischemic insult. In particular, we have shown that a group of mediators called prostaglandins are critical to the process of mucosal repair, although these mediators are also responsible for triggering diarrheal disease. Therefore, we are seeking methods of modulating prostaglandin production so that mucosal recovery is optimal, but diarrhea is minimized. In other studies, we have shown that select amino acids stimulate optimal salt and water absorption. In particular, we have shown that glutamine stimulates salt absorption in piglets and calves infected with the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium parvum, whereas arginine stimulates mucosal repair.
We are also assessing the role of inflammation in post-ischemic intestine. Specifically, neutrophils may contribute to additional mucosal injury, but are also important for mucosal recovery. Therefore, we are conducting a series of depth studies in order to understand and modulate neutrophil adhesion.