With grant GM109333 from the National Institute of General Medicine Sciences, the Romero-Sandoval Laboratory is studying the role of CD163 in the normal resolution of pain after surgery and its potential therapeutic effects to prevent or treat chronic postsurgical pain. Under this initial hypothesis, our studies have originated multiple projects encompassing a multidisciplinary approach.

Research Project Highlights

We have several ongoing projects to support our overall goals and test our hypotheses.

  • Our efforts are focused on developing a therapeutic strategy following a peripheral route of administration to facilitate its potential application in the clinic. Our goal is to specifically target macrophages to induce an efficient and timely tissue repair and inflammation resolution.
  • We hypothesize that CD163 promotes the transition from M1 to M2 phenotypes in macrophages. To test this hypothesis, we are inducing the expression of CD163 gene in macrophages using nanotechnology.
  • Our studies include functional assays to determine whether the induction of CD163 using this approach promotes an M2 cellular phenotype in human macrophages. The scientific premise of our hypothesis is that by promoting an M2 macrophage phenotype we will prevent or revert peripheral nociceptor sensitization, and subsequently, central changes that underlie the development of chronic pain.
  • We are interested in understanding the cellular and biochemical interactions between macrophages and skin cells and how these processes orchestrate wound healing. Specifically, we utilize in vitro keratinocyte and fibroblast wound healing assays, and an ex vivo 3D human organotypic wounded skin tissue assay to explore the role of macrophage CD163 in skin cell function.
  • We use rat models to test our hypothesis that the induction of CD163 in local macrophages promotes a more efficient and faster resolution of inflammation and postoperative pain. Behavioral studies for evoked and spontaneous pain, molecular assessments at the mRNA and protein level, histopathologic analyses and comprehensive statistical tests comprise our methodologies and approach.
  • Due to the major role of macrophages in inflammation and wound healing, we are also studying their function and capabilities under diabetic conditions. Our ultimate goal is to develop a therapeutic approach to promote a better tissue repair for diabetic ulcers and potentially reduce the macrophage pro‐inflammatory state found in painful diabetic neuropathy to treat this neuropathic pain condition.