Atherosclerosis, the clogging of arteries by deposits of fat and cholesterol, is a major cause of cardiovascular disease especially among individuals with diabetes. Although reducing the rate of atherosclerosis progression is desirable and has been achieved clinically by lipid lowering medication, such therapies are far less effective among diabetic individuals leaving them at high risk of cardiovascular complications. An important topic of our research program is to explore the interplay between plasma lipoprotein metabolism and microRNA-controlled inflammation in atherosclerosis initiation and regression through studies of mouse models developed in our laboratory. We also explore how hyperglycemia impacts on dysregulating microRNA biogenesis in immune cells as a cause enhanced inflammation and atherosclerosis in diabetic mice.
As a member of the Extracellular RNA (exRNA) Consortium at the NIH Common Fund, our laboratory collaborates with numerous colleagues at UCSF and other academic institutions nationwide to explore the relevance of extracellular RNA in the form of exosomes and plasma lipoproteins as a effectors of atherosclerosis progression and regression. Our goal is to develop novel treatment for atherosclerosis and its cardiovascular complication based on the delivery of exRNA, including in the form of cell-derived Exosomes.