Sorci-Thomas Laboratory


Endocrinology and Molecular Medicine

General Interests

Lipid Metabolism, Atherosclerosis, Obesity, Adipocyte Biology

View Mary G. Sorci-Thomas, PhD Bio
Mary Sorci-Thomas Laboratory

Research Areas

Two projects are currently ongoing in Dr. Sorci-Thomas’ lab, both involve the protein PCPE2, or procollagen endopeptidase enhancer 2.

The first of these project examines the role of this novel protein, PCPE2 in regulating adipose tissue expansion during Western diet consumption. To do this an inducible adipocyte specific PCPE2 knockout mouse model was developed to study how the extracellular matrix protein participates in lipid uptake and efflux related to lipid storage. What we have found is that in the absence of adipocyte PCPE2, mice demonstrate reduced body weight, smaller fat stores, improved glucose tolerance and delayed postprandial lipid clearance, thus rendering them resistant to dietary fat-induced obesity and glucose intolerance. Future studies will focus on the molecular mechanism involved in PCPE2’s influence on lipid storage.

The second ongoing project in Dr. Sorci-Thomas’ lab focuses on a new and exciting concept of targeting inflammation to treat residual cardiovascular risk. Prior approaches have aimed at reducing inflammation by neutralizing the cytokine IL-1beta. Although this approach lowered CVD events, it also had serious side effects. In contrast, the new approach is aimed at increasing the function of “protective” circulating monocytes, termed, nonclassical monocytes (NCM). NCM make up ~10% of monocytes in blood and express 100-fold more scavenger receptor CD36 on their surface than classical monocytes. Traditionally monocytes have been viewed as simple precursors of macrophages which infiltrate the artery wall and contribute to foam cell burden in atherosclerotic plaque. But NCM are clearly distinct since once activated via CD36, they surveil and protect the luminal side of the vascular endothelium. NCM bind and crawl along the artery removing damaged endothelium and/or oxidized LDL (oxLDL) along their path. Thus, these studies will focus on stabilizing CD36 on NCM plasma membrane using a relatively understudied extracellular scaffold protein, procollagen endo-peptidase enhancer 2 (PCPE2).

Current Members


Hao Xu, PhD

Lab Manager


Marjorie Kipp, BS


Recent Publications