Ana J. Chucair-Elliott, PhD
- Assistant Professor of Research, Department of Ophthalmology
- Understanding the mechanisms of corneal nerve retraction and regeneration upon herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) infection and the relationship between the vascular, nervous, and immune systems during these processes.
- Postdoctoral training. Department of Ophthalmology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK
- PhD in Biochemistry. Universidad Nacional del Sur, Bahía Blanca, Argentina- Department of Ophthalmology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK
- BS in Biochemistry, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Bahía Blanca, Argentina
Regulation of the de-innervation and re-innervation processes of the cornea following HSV-1 infection. The cornea is the most richly innervated tissue in the body, mainly by sensory fibers derived from the trigeminal nerve that are crucial to maintain the healthy state of the cornea. Dysfunction of corneal nerves is associated with infectious inflammatory diseases of the cornea, such as HSV-1 infection, leading to a degenerative condition known as neurotrophic keratitis, characterized by loss of corneal sensation, blink reflex, and tear secretion. Recent evidence from our laboratory indicates that during the acute phase of HSV-1 infection there is corneal sensory nerve regression with loss of corneal sensitivity, followed by a regeneration process that leads to aberrant re-innervation with still decreased corneal function. We have identified the up-regulation of semaphorin 7A (SEMA 7A), an axonal guidance molecule, by corneal epithelial cells, as part of the nerve regeneration mechanism following HSV-1 infection. With currently are studying the role of the immune response to HSV-1 infection in the mechanism/s driving corneal nerve regression following HSV-1 infection.