Kirsten Limesand

Research Interests

Public Relevance Statement: Can you imagine having a mouthful of canker sores and cavities? Thousands of head and neck cancer patients suffer these consequences from radiation treatment. The Limesand lab works to prevent these side effects thereby improving patients' quality of life. Clinical Relevance: Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer causes adverse secondary side effects in the normal salivary gland including xerostomia, oral mucositis, malnutrition, and increase oral infections. Although improvements have been made in targeting radiation treatment to the tumor, the salivary glands are often in close proximity to the treatment site. The significant destruction of the oral cavity following radiation therapy results in diminished quality of life and in some cases interruptions in cancer treatment schedules. Research Interests: My research program has its foundation in radiation-induced gland dysfunction; mechanisms of damage, clinical prevention measures, and restoration therapies. Evidence suggests that salivary acinar function is compromised due to apoptosis induced by these treatments and temporary suppression of apoptotic events in salivary glands would have significant benefits to oral health. We utilize a number of techniques in my laboratory including: genetically engineered mouse models, real-time RT/PCR, immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, primary cultures, siRNA transfections, irradiation, and procedures to quantitate salivary gland physiology. Current project areas: 1. Radiation-induced apoptosis 2. Mechanisms of preserving salivary gland function 3. Identifying the radiosensitivity of salivary gland progenitor cells 4. Restoration of salivary gland function 5. Role of autophagy in radiation-induced loss of function