Leon Coleman, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

MD/PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
PhD-Neurobiology, BS – Chemical Engineering, University of Virginia

Research Interests

  • Immune mechanisms in drug addiction and critical illness, neurodegeneration, extracellular vesicle signaling

Research Synopsis

The overriding goal of Dr. Coleman’s work is to identify novel treatments for alcohol use disorders (AUD) and associated peripheral disease pathologies.  Currently, this includes:

Neuroimmune Signaling in AUD

The goal of this project is to determine the role of innate immune induction in the pathology of AUD across the lifespan.  This project examines the overall hypothesis that chronic ethanol induces innate immune signaling via Toll-like Receptors and cytokines, contributing to neurotoxicity and behavioral phenotypes associated with AUD.  Specific immune pathways are assessed for their involvement in models of chronic alcohol abuse and postmortem human alcoholic brain.

Alcohol-associated Immune Dysfunction in Associated Disease States

Alcohol abuse causes altered central and peripheral immune function, which can contribute to worsened outcomes in the setting of systemic inflammation and increased risk for other diseases.  The goal of this project is to determine the contribution of alcohol-induced immune dysfunction to the pathology other disease states that may be associated with alcohol and other substance abuse such as Alzheimer’s disease, sepsis, and cancer.  We hope to identify common pathways associated with alcohol and/or other substance abuse and these associated conditions that can be targeted for intervention to improve patient outcomes.

Extracellular Vesicles as key signaling mediators 

Extracellular vesicles (e.g. microvesicles and exosomes) are key components in extracellular fluid compartments and tissue extracellular matrices that can facilitate cell-cell communication.  Dr. Coleman is interested in understanding the role of extracellular vesicle-mediated signaling in AUD and other systemic inflammatory disease states, and their potential use as biomarkers or vehicles for targeted drug delivery.

Publications

List of all publications (NCBI library link)

  • Pharmacology