Allison D. Fryer Lab Home Page

Inflammatory Cells and Autonomic Nerves, Muscarinic Receptor Pharmacology, Lung Physiology
Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, Jointly in Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Oregon Health & Science University

Research in our lab is concerned with identifying the mechanisms that underlie airway hyperreactivity characteristic of asthma. The parasympathetic nerves provide the dominant autonomic control of airway smooth muscle. We have shown that release of acetylcholine from these nerves is limited by neuronal M2 receptors and that one mechanism of airway hyperreactivity is blockade of the neuronal M2 receptors by an endogenous antagonist, eosinophil major basic protein, as outlined below.

Loss of M2 receptor function is associated with an influx of eosinophils into the lungs. We have demonstrated that eosinophils cluster around airway nerves in antigen challenged guinea pigs (next photo) and in humans (photo below).

Eosinophils adhere to the parasympathetic nerves in vitro (upper photo) which express ICAM, an adhesion molecule for eosinophils (photo).

Current areas of research

We are studying function and expression of muscarinic receptors on nerves, function and expression of adhesion molecules and chemotactic factors by the nerves and mechanisms underlying airway hyperreactivity following exposure to organophosphate insecticides or ozone, or to viral infection. Mechanisms underlying the recruitment to and activation of eosinophils by parasympathetic nerves are additional areas of active interest in the lab. Finally, neural plasticity of the parasympathetic nerves following inflammation is another area of research. The methods used in the lab are varied. We are able to study the mechanisms that alter receptor expression and function at the molecular and pharmacological level and test whether they are physiologically relevant in isolated cells and in vivo.

Techniques include:
In vivo measurement of airway function.
In vitro measurement of neurotransmitter release
Measurement of eosinophil activation in isolated cells
Primary culture of parasympathetic nerves
Real time PCR
Receptor binding assays
Quantative Histology

Labs of Allison Fryer (3rd from left) and David Jacoby (second from left) while still at Johns Hopkins. We moved to OHSU in September and are rebuilding our lab group. All postdocs interested in joining should contact Allison Fryer at Our past students and fellows are currently faculty members in major universities in Canada, Ireland, Australia and the United States as well as employed in Pharmaceutical Industry.

Physiology and Pharmacology Graduate Program

Oregon Health & Science University

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

These pages last updated 10/11/2005