Sharmila Masli, PhD

sharmilaAssociate Professor of Ophthalmology

B.Sc.    University of Mumbai, Mumbai, India

M.S.     Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Ph.D.   Northeastern University, Boston, MA

BUMC Research Profile

The major focus of research in the laboratory is the study of molecular mechanisms utilized by ocular antigen presenting cells (APCs) to regulate inflammatory ocular immune responses. Particular focus is on elucidating the role of thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) in regulating ocular inflammation.

Resident ocular APCs in the posterior and anterior segment of the eye depend on TSP-1 for maintaining an anti-inflammatory phenotype. In the absence of TSP-1 these APCs acquire more immunogenic phenotype.  These observations are examined further to determine their role in ocular inflammation.

Induction of regulatory T cells (Treg) subset by ocular APCs is known to be a key component of ocular immune privilege. The ability of ocular APCs to induce Treg and its correlation with their expression of TSP-1 is examined in the laboratory at the level of molecular mechanisms.

The laboratory has identified spontaneous development of autoimmune Sjögren’s syndrome and related ocular inflammation in TSP-1 deficient mice that closely resembles clinical symptoms in human Sjögren’s patients. Different projects in the laboratory address immunologic mechanisms underlying disease development in these mice.

Ongoing projects

Molecular mechanisms underlying ocular immune regulation

The major goals of this project are to determine TSP-1 dependent molecular mechanisms           in the induction of systemic regulatory response associated with the ocular immune privilege and regulation of ocular inflammation.

Regulation of Conjunctival Inflammation with Thrombospondin

This project addresses the inflammatory responses detected in the conjunctiva of the TSP-1 deficient mice and evaluates potential regulatory mechanisms that may prevent disruption of ocular surface integrity during inflammation.

Determining therapeutic potential of topically administered compounds in resolving ocular inflammation

In this project we have developed effective topical anti-inflammatory treatment in experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) and spontaneous Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (TSP-1null mice). We also assessed anti-inflammatory properties of other therapeutic compounds in treating ocular surface inflammation.

Association of Thrombospondin-1 polymorphism with predisposition to chronic dry eye after refractive surgery and ocular surface diseases

In this project correlation of SNP in TSP-1 gene with the development of ocular surface inflammation is assessed.


Laboratory Members

Bruce Turpie, A.B.

Research Associate II

Alireza Ziaei, M.D.

Post-doctoral fellow

Laura Contreras Ruiz, Ph.D.

Post-doctoral fellow