Analysis and modulation of mucus barrier properties
Intestinal mucus forms a viscous membrane across which drugs, molecules, and microbes must diffuse through to reach the underlying epithelium. In diseased tissue, i.e. necrotizing enterocolitis and Hirschsprung disease, the mucus barrier can be compromised resulting in inflammation due to the translocation of bacteria and undesired particles to the epithelium. The goal of this project is to understand the changes to the mucus barrier in diseased tissue by studying the structural and chemical differences (i.e., quick-freeze deep etch microscopy and lipid quantification), in addition to conducting multiple particle tracking and small molecule tracking (i.e., electron paramagnetic resonance) experiments. In addition, we study how mucus structure and transport properties change due to the exposure to different food stimuli, e.g., milk. These studies will be used to understand mucosal barrier properties, and the interactions between mucus molecules, and particles and microbes.