Leukocyte Trafficking

Leukocyte Trafficking Group banner June 2013

Group leaders: Prof Gerard Nash, Prof Ed Rainger and Dr Helen McGettrick


Our research aims to understand the mechanisms that regulate recruitment of leukocytes into inflamed tissues during protective resolving responses, and how these processes go wrong in chronic inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.  We have described new pathways which regulate migration of leukocytes into tissue through the endothelial cells which line blood vessels, and the roles of local flow and of the surrounding tissue in defining normal or pathological inflammatory responses.

Latest Group News

Recent press release - http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2015/04/Newly-discovered-pathway-200415.aspx

Leukocyte Trafficking Group - local environment 4


Our research group

The Group Leads work in a highly collaborative manner with over-lapping projects, using in vitro and in vivo models for studying a variety of factors that influence leukocyte trafficking. In vitro models of the vasculature allow us to visualise the effects of blood flow on the behaviour of endothelial cells, and on the recruitment of leukocytes, platelets and stem cells. We have also developed sophisticated co-culture models to examine how platelets, monocytes or stromal cells (e.g. fibroblasts, mesenchymal stem cells) regulate the delivery of leukocytes to foci of disease. More recently, we have extended this concept using integrated 3-D multi-cellular models which allow us to track leukocytes through layers of primary human cells and determine their behaviour and ultimately their fate. To complement this work we use transgenic and preclinical models of disease, along with intravital microscopy, to further dissect these processes in vivo and elucidate mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets.

Leukocyte Trafficking Group - Lipid mediators

Leukocyte Trafficking Group - platelet monocyte interactions

Current Projects

Stromal cells as regulators of inflammation

  • Immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells, specifically in terms of vascular inflammatory responses and leukocyte recruitment (British Heart Foundation Project Grant and BBSRC and MRC PhD studentships)
  • Role of synovial fibroblasts in shaping endothelial responses and lymphocyte recruitment during resolving and persistent arthritis (Arthritis Research UK Career Development Fellowship)

Platelets and inflammation

  • Do platelets exacerbate the atherogenic process by regulating the recruitment, differentiation and inflammatory function of monocytes (British Heart Foundation Programme Grant)
  • Characterisation of blood-borne microvesicles in patients suffering trauma and investigation of their influence on inflammatory and thrombotic responses (NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre)
  • The role of platelet derived microvesicles in regulating the differentiation and inflammatory function of foam cells (British Heart Foundation PhD Studentship).

Role of adiponectin-PEPITEM axis in health and disease

  • Characterising the endothelial cell receptor for PEPITEM, a novel peptide that regulates T cell trafficking during inflammation (Medical Research Council Confidence in Concept Grant)
  • Defining the therapeutic potential of a PEPITEM in RA (Pfizer)
  • Demonstrating the utility of the adiponectin-PEPITEM axis as biomarker to detect RA in very early pre-symptomatic patients (Enterprise Birmingham Fund)

Latest press release - http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2015/04/Newly-discovered-pathway-200415.aspx

Regulation of leukocyte recruitment

  • The role of Src-family kinases in regulating transforming growth factor-β1 driven platelet and monocyte recruitment to endothelial cells (British Heart Foundation Project Grant)
  • Development of 3-D models using primary human cells to investigate the migration, fate and function of leukocytes entering inflamed tissue

Recent Publications

For full publication lists see:


Principal Investigators
Professor Gerard Nash
Professor Ed Rainger
Dr Helen McGettrick

Postdoctoral Researchers
Dr Matt Harrison
Dr Myriam Chimen
Dr Sahithi Kuravi
Dr Lozan Sheriff

Research Associates
Nichola Adlard

PhD Students
Bonita Apta
Hafsa Munir
Jasmeet Reyat
Lewis Clarke
Aigli Evryviadou

Internal Collaborators
Prof David Adams 
Dr Francesca Barone 
Prof Roy Bicknell
Prof Andrew Bradbury 
Prof Chris Buckley 
Dr Jorge Caamano 
Prof Adam Cunningham 
Dr Andrew Filer 
Prof Jon Frampton 
Dr Paul Harrison
Dr Victoria Heath 
Dr Peter Hewett 
Dr Nick Jones 
Dr Neena Kalia 
Dr Trish Lalor 
Prof Janet Lord 
Dr Melanie Madhani 
Dr Ashley Martin 
Prof Paul Murray 
Dr Parth Narendran 
Dr Phil Newsome 
Prof Karim Raza 
Prof Antal Rot 
Dr Yotis Senis 
Prof David Thickett 
Dr Mike Tomlinson 
Prof Steve Watson 
Prof Mark Wheatley 
Dr Steve Young 
Prof Paul Moss 
Dr Warwick Dunn
Dr Shan He

NHS Collaborators
Surgeon Captain Mark Midwinter- Centre for Defence Medicine, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, UK
Mr Naiem Moiemen- Midlands Burn Network, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, UK
Mr Alok Tiwari - Birmingham Vascular Clinics, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, UK

External Collaborators
Prof Philip Calder - University of Southampton
Prof Andrew Dick - University of Bristol
Prof Stuart Egginton - University of Leeds
Prof Lucy Walker - University College London
Dr Jim Middleton - University of Bristol
Prof Nick Morrell - University of Cambridge
Prof Sussan Nourshargh - Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Prof Valerie O’Donnell - Cardiff University
Prof Susan Wong - Cardiff University