Current Fortier Laboratory Research Projects

The Fortier Laboratory

Immunological and immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells.
By using the horse as a model, the lab is looking how manipulating the immunological environment of stem cells impacts their ability to facilitate healing. Understanding how the recipient environment impacts effective functionality of transplanted mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is critical for successful MSC therapy. The dichotomous ability of MSCs to suppress or activate an inflammatory response is thought to be influenced by the paracrine signaling factors within the recipient environment.  We are currently evaluating how MSC2 phenotype is impacted by macrophages. Being able to understand the recipient environment would provide insight into the in vivo immunomodulatory potential of MSCs for clinical treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Investigating early events in post-traumatic osteoarthritis.
The purpose of this study is to determine if traumatic injury of cartilage results in non-uniform spatial distribution of chondrocyte death and if this distribution is correlated to collagen fiber orientation. We are also trying to develop techniques to image these changes in cartilage in vitro and in vivo using multiphoton microscopy (MPM) and confocal microscopy. Articular cartilage will be traumatically compressed and resultant chondrocyte and matrix damage will be optically assessed in live tissue. We use non-destructive live-imaging techniques to define chondrocyte damage at the cellular level following impact injury.

Optimal leukocyte and platelet concentrations in platelet-rich plasma.
The purpose of these studies is to evaluate what the optimal platelet and leukocyte concentrations and ratio within PRP should be upon treatment knowing that all PRP preparation systems produce products with varying cellular compositions. Our lab has indicated in previous and current studies that there is a positive correlation between platelet and matrix synthesis, and a negative correlation between white blood cells and matrix synthesis. We have also found that there is a maximum biological threshold of benefit with regard to the number of platelets concentration. These studies provide relevant and clinically applicable information regarding the judicious use of PRP for treatment and will assist in the design of in vivo investigations into the use of PRP.