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Thrombospondin-1 and -2 Mediate Joint Homeostasis and Injury Responses

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

4:00 PM-5:30 PM

BIOMED Special Seminar

Thrombospondin-1 and -2 Mediate Joint Homeostasis and Injury Responses

Tristan Maerz, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
University of Michigan

Joint injury is a major risk factor for the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Overall, osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, and there are no disease-modifying treatments that adequately address symptoms or alter the natural course of disease. An increasing focus on the role of inflammation in driving osteoarthritis has revealed that the synovium – the inner connective tissue lining of joints – is the major intra-articular site for immune cell infiltration, nociceptive nerve sprouting, and tissue fibrosis.

The Maerz Lab has employed next-gen ‘omics technologies, namely single-cell RNAseq, to describe the emergence of disease-associated fibroblast subsets that emerge in synovium following joint injury. Among the most highly regulated factors expressed by synovial fibroblasts following joing injury are thrombospondin-1 and -2, matricellular proteins with multifacteted roles in regulating angiogenesis, collagen fibrillogenesis, stem cell fate, and inflammation. Utilizing multiple knockout models of thrombospondin-1 and -2, the Maerz lab has demonstrated that these proteins regulate synovial homeostasis and the response to injury, and mice deficient in these factors exhibit early onset joint degeneration with marked ectopic synovial chondrogenesis/osteogenesis.

Tristan Maerz, PhD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, biomedical engineering, and rheumatology at the University of Michigan. Born and raised in southern Germany, Dr. Maerz moved to Michigan as a teenager. He completed his doctoral degree in biomedical engineering at Wayne State University in 2015 and joined the department of orthopaedic surgery at Michigan in 2017, after an 8-year tenure as an orthopaedic research engineer at Beaumont Hospital.

Dr. Maerz's laboratory studies the immunological events that occur following traumatic joint injury to identify novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of post-traumatic osteoarthritis, with a primary focus on pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic pathomechanisms in synovium. Dr. Maerz serves on federal and international study sections and is active in the Orthopaedic Research Society, his primary academic community. With a highly trainee-oriented and collaborative philosophy, the Maerz Lab is home to a diverse group of scientists spanning engineering, physiology, computational biology, and immunology.

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