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Maria Abreu, Ph.D.

Associate Director, E.M. Papper Laboratory of Clinical Immunology

Assistant Professor, K. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine

Research Assistant, Miami VA Medical Center

Dr. Maria Abreu is an experienced biomedical researcher. As the Associate Director of the E.M. Papper Laboratory of Clinical Immunology, she focuses on the continual progress of funded research, managing its extensive biorepository and collaborating with investigators at various sites. 

One of Dr. Abreu's most important goals of her career is being able to translate bench work results to the clinic. She has previous training in cancer cell biology, autophagy and immunology. Dr. Abreu's primary reseach concentration is understanding the underlying mechanisms of immune dysfunction and finding novel biomarkers in GWI and ME/CFS. 


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  • Understanding Gulf War Illness: An Integrative Modeling Approach
  • Integrate two animal models of GWI with human clinical data to pinpoint the underlying mechanisms of disease and target treatment more effectively to re-establish normal well-coordinated signaling interactions. 

  • A Translational Medicine Approach to Gulf War Illness: From Cells to Therapy
  • The objectives of the proposed study are to determine if intervening at these therapeutic targets selected via computational modeling will act as predicted and normalize immune and neuroendocrine function in an in vitro system. The study will have 2 phases: an exploration/ screening phase and a validation phase. The screening phase will be conducted on 17 repurposed drugs. These will be assessed in vitro using whole blood cultures from 40 GWI patients and 40 matched controls. The most promising 5 drugs will be validated in PBMCs from a new cohort of 40 GWI patients and 40 matched controls. 

  • Measurement of Biomarkers in Samples Collected in a Coenzyme Q10 Treatment Trial in Gulf War Illness and Control Subjects
  • We will be assessing the biomarkers (pre and post-treatment) from the PBMCs obtained from 100 GWI treated with CoQ10 (200mg) compared to 100 matched GWI placebo group. Our laboratory, with over 30 years of experience with these techniques, will measure NK cytotoxicity assays, pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory using a 18 multiplex cytokine array, flow cytometry to determine lymphocyte subsets and assessment of cell surface proteins, autonomic nervous systems evaluation including: catecholamines: epinephrine and norepinephrine, NPY measurements, and mitochondria function including: antioxidant and methylation pathway metabolites. Results from these studies will be used to map changes in marker co-expression. Using classical multivariate projection to latent structure we will identify and compare statistical patterns associating symptoms clusters and interactions within cellular and molecular markers in the blood pre and post-treatment.

  • Assessing the Mental State of the Homeless and Providing Empowerment in Decision-Making Strategies
  • One major internal factor affecting the homeless population at large is low Health Literacy (HL) and premature aging. Though, unfortunately, not enough research is dedicated to address the health literacy within the homeless population, which constrains targeted interventions to empower this population to improve their health status and quality of life. Reduced HL is associated with low education, mental disability, and poverty. The purpose of this study is to assess the health literacy level within the homeless population and to evaluate how low HL contributes to poor management of chronic illnesses in the homeless population. Additionally, it is to assess the possibility of properly train the homeless population to increase health literacy to improve management of health despite their residential condition, and subsequently improve health outcomes. 

Peer-Reviewed Publications

CCL21 Expression in β-Cells Induces Antigen-Expressing Stromal Cell Networks in the Pancreas and Prevents Autoimmune Diabetes in Mice

Gonzalez Badillo FE, Zisi Tegou F, Abreu MM, Masina R, Sha D, Najjar M, Wright SH, Bayer AL, Korpos É, Pugliese A, Molano RD, Tomei AA. Diabetes. 2019 Oct;68(10):1990-2003. doi: 10.2337/db19-0239.


Alterations in DNA Methylation Status Associated with Gulf War Illness

Trivedi MS, Abreu MM, Sarria L, Rose N, Ahmed N, Beljanski V, Fletcher MA, Klimas NG, Nathanson L. DNA Cell Biol. 2019 Jun;38(6):561-571. doi: 10.1089/dna.2018.4469. Epub 2019 Mar 28.


Effects of Composition of Alginate-Polyethylene Glycol Microcapsules and Transplant Site on Encapsulated Islet Graft Outcomes in Mice

Villa C, Manzoli V, Abreu MM, Verheyen CA, Seskin M, Najjar M, Molano RD, Torrente Y, Ricordi C, Tomei AA. Transplantation. 2017 May;101(5):1025-1035. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000001454.

The C/EBPbeta isoform, liver-inhibitory protein (LIP), induces autophagy in breast cancer cell lines

Abreu MM, Sealy L. Exp Cell Res. 2010 Nov 15;316(19):3227-38. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2010.07.021. Epub 2010 Aug 7.

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