PCMM | Adhesion Molecules and Inflammation

Adhesion molecules are sticky cell surface molecules that facilitate intercellular binding and communication. They govern cell-to-cell interactions and are necessary for embryonic development, cell growth and differentiation, pathogen detection, inflammation, and wound repairs.

We are a world leader in adhesion molecule research, providing an explosion of information from the sub-molecular level to that of the whole organism. Researchers are specifically investigating molecules and their receptors that are involved in two survival mechanisms: the homing of immune cells to inflamed or infected tissues; and the recruitment of blood-clotting platelets to the site of a vascular wound.

Understanding the function of adhesion molecules will lead to ways of preventing inflammatory disease. Obstructing the movement of inflammatory and immune cells, for example, can help treat psoriasis. The FDA recently approved molecules discovered in the Springer Lab for clinical use against this affliction.

Our research in this area benefits from major advances in transgenic and knockout mouse technology. Powerful imaging tools, including intravital fluorescence microscopy and X-ray crystallography, also assist our scientists in scoring discoveries about adhesion molecules.

Investigators are pursuing these challenges in the area of adhesion molecules:

  • Understanding how adhesion molecules work at the molecular level;

  • Predicting the structure of molecules;

  • Understanding the biophysics of how adhesion molecules enter and exit from the bloodstream;

  • Searching for small molecules in a drug discovery program that might impede the function of adhesion molecules and lead to ways of preventing inflammatory disease, including atherosclerosis and thrombosis.

PCMM scientists studying adhesion molecules and inflammation 


Eileen Remold-O'Donnell

Timothy Springer 

Denisa Wagner, PhD

Denisa Wagner

Florian Winau, MD

Florian Winau