Edinburgh Research Explorer

Katharine Mylonas

Research Fellow

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My research in a nutshell

My main focus in the last 5 years has been in macrophage biology. This has been applied to the role of macrophages in the initiation, progression and resolution of inflammatory processes firstly in the kidney with Jeremy Hughes lab in the CIR (2010-2011), where I was specifically interested in monocyte and macrophage trafficking to/from the injured kidney, and then in the investigation of inflammation following myocardial infarction in Gillian Gray’s lab (CVS; 2011-present). I have also collaborated with leading international groups in the macrophage field in this time, including Judith Allen’s (IIIR) and Stephen Jenkin’s labs (CIR).

Research undertaken as part of my post-doc with Gillian Gray has led me to identify and characterise a resident heart macrophage population that expands and adopts an alternatively activated phenotype in response to parasite infection. This has led to a first author paper published in Immunobiology. This cardiac macrophage population is replaced following irradiation and bone marrow transfer, an intervention that also modifies the response to injury (co-authorship on a paper in Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology in Jan 2016 with Prof Ajay Shah, KCL). Some of this work was submitted towards a BHF intermediate fellowship application in 2014.

The position in the Gray lab has also involved investigating the role of 11β-HSD1 in bone marrow-derived cells vs tissue of the heart post-MI and also the role of myeloid cells after injury in the heart.  I have also contributed to the work of other researchers in the lab. I have also acquired invaluable techniques during this time including coronary artery ligation surgery and bone marrow transfer. I also established a flow cytometry assay to investigate the cellular composition of blood at various stages post-MI in human patients in collaboration with members of Nicholas Mill’s group, which may be used in the future to predict clinical outcomes.

In the past year, I have also been conducting research with Brian Walker’s group in the CVS. This position has involved analyzing the effect of glucocorticoids on energy metabolism (glycolysis) in the heart by state-of-the-art PET-CT along with Roland Stimson, in the hope of investigating any possible affect a switch in the metabolism might have on progression to heart failure (MS to be prepared depending on outcome). This is a cutting-edge technique and I hope to become proficient at its use and the accompanying analysis software. As part of my own research aims, I hope to assist Adriana Tavares in establishing a PET tracer method for myeloid cell tracking post-MI.

I am currently working in Cecile Benezech’s lab (CVS). In 2015, we received a small grant from TENOVUS Scotland to investigate how pericardial immune cells in fat-associated lymphoid clusters (FALCs) are activated during myocardial infarction and determine their role in the injury and repair of the heart after MI. My interest lies in if and how these pericardial immune cells contribute to monocyte trafficking to the infarcted heart and/or affect the resident macrophage population. We also received ISSF2 funding to carry out further pilot experiments to strengthen an application for a larger programme grant. This work in ongoing but we hope to submit a grant application(s) within the next couple of months. During this time, I have also been involved in a study to investigate the cellular composition of blood, peritoneal lavage, omental fat and parietal tissue in human patients undergoing surgery during acute inflammation compared to non-inflamed controls, and in relation to abdominal fat content. 

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