Dr. Vitali’s laboratory research focuses on the lung inflammation that occurs in response to sterile insults such as hypoxia and hyperoxia and the role of the intrinsic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in control of this inflammation. The inflammatory response to hypoxia plays a key pathophysiologic role in the development of hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension, while the inflammation resulting from hyperoxia contributes to acute lung injury. Both of these stimuli cause activation of the inflammasome, an innate immune pathway in macrophages and other cell types that is known to respond to danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), sterile triggers of inflammation. Dr. Vitali has found that induction of heme oxygenase serves to control the inflammasome response to hypoxia in macrophages in vitro and that mice deficient in heme oxygenase have exaggerated hypoxic inflammation. Her goal is to use induction of HO-1 to limit the exaggerated inflammation that contributes to human lung diseases.