Research Projects
Effects of peritonitis on mesothelial cell gene expression

Principal Investigator: Dr Aron Chakera

In Australia, more than 2000 people reach end stage kidney disease and commence renal replacement therapy each year. Of the available dialysis modalities, peritoneal dialysis (PD) is used by over 20% of patients, and may be the only option in remote locations. A major complication of PD is the development of peritonitis, primarily caused by bacterial infections within the abdomen. PD peritonitis occurs approximately once in every 19-28 patient months on treatment and is associated with reduced modality and patient survival and is the cause of technique failure in approximately 20% of patients.

The acute inflammatory response caused by peritonitis is orchestrated by a specialized group of cells, mesothelial cells that line the abdominal cavity and are the first point of contact between invading organisms and the host’s immune system. Despite the importance of PD peritonitis, the biology of the interactions between bacteria causing peritonitis and the mesothelium remain poorly understood. This project will employ a variety of techniques to study the responses of mesothelial cells to bacterial exposure. Data from this project have the potential to change our understanding of how peritonitis develops and resolves, and may identify novel therapeutic targets that can be exploited to improve outcomes for patients with peritonitis. These insights are also likely to have relevance to other infections, particularly those within the pleural space, which is also lined by mesothelial cells.