Urayama Lab Profile & Members

Akihiko Urayama PhD – Associate Professor

Research Team Focus
Dr. Urayama’s research team focuses on the elucidation of the leading mechanisms by which aging-associated changes in the neurovascular unit are involved in health and disease. Projects are currently being developed in the areas of (i) regulation of endosomal receptor trafficking, (ii) lysosomal malfunctioning, (iii) mechanosensing in the BBB, and (iv) cerebral vascular basement membrane remodeling in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Currently, we study these cerebral vascular events in relation to dementia and cognitive function in AD, CAA, LSD, and ischemia.  We have expertise in TIRF super-resolution confocal and intravital two-photon imaging and atomic force microscopy. And use these techniques to investigate the events in the neuro-glial-vascular unit in live cells, live animals, as well as fixed samples. We create primary endothelial cells and astrocytes from brain tissues from animal models and clinical samples. Contemporary molecular and biochemical approaches and behavioral assessments are also applied to the projects.

Overview of Research
We have identified molecular mechanisms that modulate vesicle trafficking in brain endothelial cells. We aim to develop methodologies to control the luminal-to-abluminal trafficking of endosomal vesicles for macromolecule transport across the BBB. This project also contributes to managing the lysosomal dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases including LSD and AD.

The vascular basement membrane provides biological and physical support for the neurovascular unit including endothelial cell growth. We have found several potential molecular mechanisms that mediate the remodeling of the basement membrane which contributes to the vascular deposition of amyloid during ischemia. Also, we identified that such changes in vascular amyloidosis produce profound effects on the mechanical properties of endothelial cells.

Hannah Thompson – Research Assistant I