Nicole L Ward

Nicole L Ward
Vanderbilt University | Vander Bilt

PhD

About

142
Publications
14,949
Reads
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3,730
Citations
Introduction
Current research in the Ward lab is focused on identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying inflammatory skin disease and its associated co-morbidities, including atherothrombosis, arthritis, IBD, and depression. We study skin and blood from mouse models and psoriasis patients using a Systems Biology approach with CyTOF, multi-colour FACs, RNASeq, and ScSeq in order to better understand how chronic skin-contained inflammation has the capacity to drive distant organ injury.
Additional affiliations
January 2022 - present
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Position
  • Professor and Vice Chair of Basic Research
July 2019 - January 2022
Case Western Reserve University
Position
  • Professor
July 2013 - June 2019
Case Western Reserve University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Education
September 1999 - June 2003
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Field of study
  • Medical Biophysics and Molecular & Cell Biology
September 1996 - August 1999
Dalhousie University
Field of study
  • Anatomy and Neurobiology
September 1995 - August 1996
McMaster University
Field of study
  • Division of Health Sciences-Neuroscience

Publications

Publications (142)
Article
Full-text available
Background: Psoriasis patients exhibit an increased risk of atherothrombotic events, including myocardial infarction and stroke. Clinical evidence suggests that psoriasis patients with early onset and more severe disease have the highest risk for these co-morbidities, perhaps due to the extent of body surface involvement, subsequent levels of syst...
Article
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Type 1 interferons (IFNs) promote inflammation in the skin but the mechanisms responsible for inducing these cytokines are not well understood. We found that IFN-β was abundantly produced by epidermal keratinocytes (KCs) in psoriasis and during wound repair. KC IFN-β production depended on stimulation of mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (M...
Article
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IL-6 inhibition has been unsuccessful in treating psoriasis, despite high levels of tissue and serum IL-6 in patients. Additionally, de novo psoriasis onset has been reported following IL-6 blockade in rheumatoid arthritis patients. To explore mechanisms underlying these clinical observations, we backcrossed an established psoriasiform mouse model...
Article
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Psoriasis patients are at increased risk of heart attack and stroke and have elevated MRP8/14 levels that predict heart attack. The KC-Tie2 psoriasiform mouse model exhibits elevated MRP8/14 and is prothrombotic. Mrp14-/- mice, in contrast, are protected from thrombosis, but, surprisingly, KC-Tie2xMrp14-/- mice remain prothrombotic. Treating KC-Tie...
Article
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Kallikrein-related peptidase 6 (KLK6) is a secreted serine protease hypothesized to promote inflammation via cleavage of protease-activated receptors (PAR)1 and PAR2. KLK6 levels are elevated in multiple inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, but no definitive role in pathogenesis has been established. Here, we show that skin-targeted overexpressi...
Article
Background Allergic contact dermatitis (CD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease caused by type-1 biased adaptive immunity for which there is an unmet need for antigen (Ag)-specific immunotherapies. Exposure to skin sensitizers stimulates secretion of the proinflammatory neuropeptides substance P (SP) and hemokinin 1 (HK1), which signal via the n...
Article
The use of preclinical animal models of psoriasis has significantly increased over the last three decades, with each model having unique strengths and limitations. Some models translate better to human disease, and many have provided unique insight into psoriasis disease pathogenesis. In this comprehensive review, we present a comparative descripti...
Article
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Altered epidermal differentiation along with increased keratinocyte proliferation, is a characteristic feature of psoriasis and pityriasis rubra pilaris (PRP). However, despite this large degree of overlapping clinical and histologic features, the molecular signatures these skin disorders share are unknown. Using global transcriptomic profiling we...
Article
Psoriasis is a common, inflammatory autoimmune skin disease. Early detection of a type I interferon (IFN) signature occurs in many psoriasis lesions, but the source of IFN production remains debated. Interferon kappa (IFN-κ) is an important source of type I IFN production in the epidermis. We identified a correlation between IFN–regulated and psori...
Article
Full-text available
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by systemic immune dysregulation. Over the past several years, advances in genetics, microbiology, immunology, and mouse models have revealed the complex interplay between the heritable and microenvironmental factors that drive the development of psoriatic inflammation. In the first of thi...
Article
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects 2% to 3% of the U.S. population. The immune response in psoriasis includes enhanced activation of T cells and myeloid cells, platelet activation, and up-regulation of interferons, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interleukins (ILs) IL-23, IL-17, and IL-6, which are linked to vascular inflamm...
Article
Many inflammatory skin diseases are characterized by altered epidermal differentiation. Whether this altered differentiation promotes inflammatory responses has been unknown. Here we show that IRAK2, a member of the signaling complex downstream of IL-1/IL-36, correlates positively with disease severity in both AD and psoriasis. Inhibition of epider...
Article
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The skin serves as the primary interface between our body and the external environment and acts as a barrier against entry of physical agents, chemicals, and microbes. Keratinocytes make up the main cellular constitute of the outermost layer of the skin, contributing to the formation of the epidermis, and they are crucial for maintaining the integr...
Article
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that has a fairly wide range of clinical presentations. Plaque psoriasis, which is the most common manifestation of psoriasis, is located on one end of the spectrum, dominated by adaptive immune responses, whereas the rarer pustular psoriasis lies on the opposite end, dominated by innate and autoin...
Article
Little is known about whether pathogen invasion of neural tissue is affected by immune-based mechanisms in endothelial cells. We examined the effects of endothelial cell CD40 on Toxoplasma gondii invasion of the retina and brain, organs seeded hematogenously. T. gondii circulates in the bloodstream within infected leukocytes (including monocytes an...
Article
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Autoimmune disease is 4 times more common in women than men. This bias is largely unexplained. Female skin is “autoimmunity prone,” showing upregulation of many proinflammatory genes, even in healthy women. We previously identified VGLL3 as a putative transcription cofactor enriched in female skin. Here, we demonstrate that skin-directed overexpres...
Article
Herpes Labialis results from reactivation of latent herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2) harbored in the trigeminal ganglion during times of psychological stress, cutaneous injury or photo exposure. Following reactivation, the virus is anterogradely transported through axonal termini to the skin where the virus is released and replicates causing a...
Article
Background: A link between selenium deficiency and inflammatory skin diseases have been noted by many, but this link is still not well understood. We have previously studied the efficacy of ceramide analogs, based on the fire ant venom Solenopsin A, against our psoriasis animal model. Treatment of animals with solenopsin analogs resulted in signif...
Article
Psoriasis is a chronic, debilitating skin condition that affects approximately 125 million individuals worldwide. The cause of psoriasis appears multifactorial, and no unified mitigating signal or single antigenic target has been identified to date. Metabolomic studies hold great potential for explaining disease mechanism, facilitating early diagno...
Article
Full-text available
IL-36 cytokines have recently emerged as mediators of inflammation in autoimmune conditions including psoriasis vulgaris (PsV) and generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP). This study used RNA-seq to profile the transcriptome of primary epidermal keratinocytes (KCs) treated with IL-1B, IL-36A, IL-36B, or IL-36G. We identified some early IL-1B-specific...
Article
Full-text available
Psoriasis vulgaris is a common, inflammatory skin disease affecting approximately 3% of the population in the United States. The etiology of psoriasis and its associated comorbidities are complex and the result of complicated interactions between the skin, immune system, disease-associated susceptibility loci, and multiple environmental triggers. T...
Article
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Keratinocyte (KC) hyper-proliferation and epidermal thickening are characteristic features of psoriasis lesions, but the specific contributions of KCs to plaque formation are not fully understood. This study used RNA-seq to investigate the transcriptome of primary monolayer KC cultures grown from lesional (PP) and non-lesional (PN) biopsies of psor...
Article
Full-text available
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease affecting 2.5–6 million patients in the United States. The cause of psoriasis remains unknown. Previous human and animal studies suggest that patients with a susceptible genetic background and some stimulus, such as barrier disruption, leads to a coordinated signaling events involving cytokines betwe...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Interleukin (IL)-36 cytokines have recently emerged as key proinflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of psoriasis, particularly its pustular subtypes. However, little is known about IL-36 downstream signalling and transcriptional responses. The aim of this study was to elucidate transcriptional responses downstream of the three IL-36 cytokines...
Article
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Chronic inflammation is a critical component of atherogenesis, however, reliable human translational models aimed at characterizing these mechanisms are lacking. Psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease associated with increased susceptibility to atherosclerosis, provides a clinical human model that can be utilized to investigate the links be...
Article
Psoriasis patients experience chronic systemic skin inflammation and develop cardiovascular comorbidities that shorten their lifespan. Whether cardiovascular disease is improved by treatment with current biologics that target disease-specific pathways is unclear. KC-Tie2 mice develop psoriasiform skin inflammation with increases in IL-23 and IL-17A...
Article
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Background Imiquimod (IMQ) produces a cutaneous phenotype in mice frequently studied as an acute model of human psoriasis. Whether this phenotype depends on strain or sex has never been systematically investigated on a large scale. Such effects, however, could lead to conflicts among studies, while further impacting study outcomes and efforts to tr...
Article
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The IL-17 family cytokines IL-17A and IL-17C drive the pathogenesis of psoriatic skin inflammation, and anti-IL-17A Abs were recently approved to treat human psoriasis. Little is known about mechanisms that restrain IL-17 cytokine-mediated signaling, particularly IL-17C. In this article, we show that the endoribonuclease MCP-1-induced protein 1 (MC...
Article
Since 2009, the imiquimod- or Aldara-induced (3M Pharmaceuticals, St. Paul, MN) model of acute skin inflammation has become the most widely used mouse model in preclinical psoriasis studies. Although this model offers researchers numerous benefits, there are important limitations and possible confounding variables to consider. The imiquimod model r...
Article
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Background: Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin and joints that may also have systemic inflammatory effects, including the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Multiple epidemiologic studies have demonstrated increased rates of CVD in psoriasis patients, although a causal link has not been established. A growing body of...
Article
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The Mrp8 and Mrp14 proteins (calprotectin) accumulate within tissues during aging and may contribute to chronic inflammation. To address this possibility, we evaluated female calprotectin-deficient Mrp14-KO and wild-type (WT) mice at 5 and 24 months of age. However, there was no evidence that age-related inflammation is blunted in KO mice. Inflamma...
Article
To explore the role of amphiregulin in inflammatory epidermal hyperplasia, we overexpressed human AREG (hAREG) in FVB/N mice using a bovine K5 promoter. A construct containing AREG coding sequences flanked by 5' and 3' untranslated region sequences (AREG-UTR) lead to a >10 fold increase in hAREG expression compared to an otherwise-identical constru...
Article
Psoriasis patients exhibit an increased risk of death by cardiovascular disease (CVD) and have elevated levels of circulating intermediate (CD14(++)CD16(+)) monocytes. This elevation could represent evidence of monocyte dysfunction in psoriasis patients at risk for CVD, as increases in circulating CD14(++)CD16(+) monocytes are predictive of myocard...
Article
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Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is characterized by frequent loss of PTCH1, leading to constitutive activation of the Hedgehog pathway. Although the requirement for Hedgehog in BCC is well established, the identity of disease-initiating cells and the compartments in which they reside remain controversial. By using several inducible Cre drivers to delete...
Article
Use of botulinum neurotoxin A (BoNTA) for treating inflammatory skin disease is an underexplored area in medical dermatology. Preclinical mouse studies have demonstrated efficacy of abobotulinumtoxinA in improving psoriasiform skin inflammation. We describe sustained local clearance of a psoriasis plaque in a patient following a single off-label in...
Article
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Herein we demonstrate the efficacy of an unbiased proteomics screening approach for studying protein expression changes in the KC-Tie2 psoriasis mouse model, identifying multiple protein expression changes in the mouse and validating these changes in human psoriasis. KC-Tie2 mouse skin samples (n=3) were compared with littermate controls (n=3) usin...
Article
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Abbreviations: CNU, cutaneous neurovascular unit; DT, double transgenic; EGFRI, EGFR inhibitor; ErbB, avian erythroblastosis oncogene B; KC, keratinocyte; qRT-PCR, quantitative real-time reverse-transcriptase–PCR; ST, single transgenic; WT, wild type
Article
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Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are a recently discovered family of innate immune cells belonging to the lymphoid lineage, yet lacking antigen-specific receptors. ILCs were first identified in the intestinal tract, where they contribute to epithelial barrier integrity and host responses to commensal microbes. Teunissen et al. (in the current issue) an...