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Stress and Inflammation

Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a range of diverse diseases including, but not limited to, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. While inflammation is a necessary component of a healthy person’s immune response to trauma or infection, the inflammation normally subsides as an anti-inflammatory response signals the body’s return to health. However, when the amount of proinflammatory chemicals fails to subside, the continuing production of immune cells inevitably interferes with the body’s healthy tissues. So it is for atherosclerosis, the predominant cause of coronary artery occlusion. Atherosclerosis is characterized by the presence of atheromas or atherosclerotic plaques, which are formed in turn from macrophages produced by the body’s inflammatory response, often to a lesion in the arterial wall. Conditions such as obesity and smoking are also associated with an ongoing inflammatory response, and reactive oxygen species have also been implicated by creating what is termed oxidative stress. Identifying the molecular details surrounding this misfiring of the body’s innate immune response will help in developing a deeper understanding of a wide range of human diseases, and should aid in the ongoing search for effective therapeutic treatments.

This symposium will look at three facets of the chronic inflammatory condition. Presenters will share their work on the identification of potential targets for the plant extract resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, that help explain its cardioprotective properties, followed by novel research on the link between oxidative stress, protein misfolding and cell apoptosis, finishing with a look at potential therapeutic treatments of a variety of immune-mediated diseases.

About the Brother Lucian Blersch Symposium

Organized by the School of Natural Sciences at St. Edward’s University, the event is free and open to the public. This symposium honors Brother Lucian Blersch, CSC, a longtime professor of Engineering at St. Edward’s who died in 1986 and in whose name a professorship in the School of Natural Sciences was endowed by a gift from J.B.N. Morris hs ’48, ’52, and his family.

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