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Plaas
Anna
PhD
The Robert S Katz MD-Joan and Paul Rubschlager Presidential Professor of Osteoarthritis
Professor, Department of Internal Medicine,
Section of Rheumatology
Biochemistry, Internal Medicine
GME, Graduate College, Rush Medical College
1653 W. Congress Pkwy.
Jelke Building
Ste. 1413
Chicago, IL 60612

1653 W. Congress Pkwy.
Jelke Building
Ste. 1302
Chicago, IL 60612

(312) 942-7194
(312) 563-2267
anna_plaas@rush.edu
The University of Wales (Cardiff,UK) PhD

Research Interest
Collaborations
Major Academic Community Activities
   Editorial Boards
   Committees
   Study Review
Publications
Grants
Research Trainees 

Anna Plaas, PhD graduated in 1982 from the University of Wales (Cardiff, UK) with a PhD in biochemistry, and then obtained a post-doctoral position in the Osteoarthritis Research Program at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, where she was mentored in cartilage biochemistry by Helen Muir, CBE, MA, DPhil, DSc, FRS.

In 1985 she moved to the Department of Orthopedics, Brown University, supported by an Arthritis Foundation post-doctoral grant. After five years at Brown she moved as principal investigator to the Center for Musculoskeletal Regeneration at the Shriners Hospital, Tampa, FL and was subsequently appointed as associate professor in biochemistry at the University of South Florida. There she established a laboratory in connective tissue carbohydrate chemistry which soon became an international resource for researchers in the bioactivities of sulfated glycosaminoglycans.

In 2006 she accepted a position at Rush University Medical Center as professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine (section of Rheumatology) and Biochemistry and holds the Katz-Rubschlaeger Chair in Osteoarthritis.

Research Interest

The long-term goal of Plaas’ lab is to understand how aberrant control of wound healing (hemostasis, inflammation, cell proliferation and matrix remodeling) in the soft tissue of the joint plays a central role in the pathogenesis of knee osteoarthritis. Currently, under an NIH RO1 program, we are delineating the matrix remodeling pathway(s) by which the products of ADAMTS-aggrecanases combine with hyaluronan and cell surface receptors to regulate growth factor signaling in stem cells and regulate the capacity of articular cartilage to repair.

This particular project is conducted with mouse models of osteoarthritis and is targeted to examine the effects of tissue specific gene knockouts on the mode of cartilage degeneration and endogenous repair potential. These basic research studies will provide a scientific basis for the generation of novel therapies directed toward human osteoarthritis.

Such interventions will be based on modified hyaluronan supplementation and protease inhibition, using formulations that can be delivered directly to the osteoarthritic joint. In this regard, we are actively collaborating with the commercial sector (Seikagaku Inc and Smith and Nephew Inc) to improve the specificity and efficacy of injectable hyaluronan preparations which are already in clinical use.

Collaborations

Plaas’ laboratory is currently involved in a number of active collaborations with investigators both at Rush and other institutions. These include:

  1. Application of state-of-the-art imaging methods (EPIC uCT, Multiphoton Imaging, AFM) for mouse cartilage to directly quantitate tissue degeneration and healing, with Rick Sumner, MD, Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology RUMC, Katalin Mikecz, MD, Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery RUMC and Alan Grodzinsky, MD at MIT Boston.
     
  2. Investigation of contribution of ligament biomechanical properties to joint stability and cartilage integrity with Vincent Wang, MD, Robert Wysoki, MD and Jorge Galante, MD, Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery RUMC.
     
  3. A study of the regulation of TGFbeta signaling in bone marrow and cartilage derived progenitor cells with Kent Christopherson, MD, Hematology Stem Cell Laboratory at RUMC, Andrea Dorfleutner, MD in the Dept. of Rheumatology, at Northwestern University Chicago and John Kisiday, MD, Equine Orthopedic Research Center, Colorado State University.
     
  4. A study of cell-type specific gene knockouts in mice to discover new targets for osteoarthritis therapy with Di Chen, MD, Dept. of Biochemistry, RUMC and Carol De LaMotte, MD, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland.  

Major Academic Community Activities

Editorial Boards

The Journal of Biological Chemistry
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
J. Orthopedic Research
Cartilage
Arthritis Research and Therapy
Arth. and Rheumatism
Connective Tissue Research

Committees

Orthopedic Research Society
Program Committee
Proteoglycan Gordon Conference
Vice Chair
Proteoglycan Gordon Conference
Chair
Osteoarthritis Research Society International
Program Committee
Proteoglycan Gordon Conference
Program Committee

Study Review

The Arthritis Foundation (US)
The Arthritis and Rheumatism Council (UK)

Publications (selected from 80 peer-reviewed publications)

  1. Wang VM, Bell RM, Thakore R, Eyre DR, Galante JO, Li J, Sandy JD, Plaas A. Murine tendon function is adversely affected by aggrecan accumulation due to the knockout of ADAMTS5. J Orthop Res., 2012. [PMID: 21928430]
     
  2. Plaas A, Velasco J, Gorski DJ, Li J, Cole A, Christopherson K, Sandy JD. The relationship between fibrogenic TGFß1 signaling in the joint and cartilage degradation in post-injury osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011. [PMID: 21624477]
     
  3. Velasco J, Li J, DiPietro L, Stepp MA, Sandy JD, Plaas A.. Adamts5 deletion blocks murine dermal repair through CD44-mediated aggrecan accumulation and modulation of transforming growth factor ß1 (TGFß1) signaling. J Biol Chem. 2011.[PMID: 21566131]
     
  4. Plaas A, Osborn B, Yoshihara Y, Bai Y, Bloom T, Nelson F, Mikecz K, Sandy JD. Aggrecanolysis in human osteoarthritis: confocal localization and biochemical characterization of ADAMTS5-hyaluronan complexes in articular cartilages. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2007. [PMID: 17360199]
     
  5. Plaas AH, West LA, Wong-Palms S, Nelson FR. Glycosaminoglycan sulfation in human osteoarthritis. Disease-related alterations at the non-reducing termini of chondroitin and dermatan sulfate. J Biol Chem. 1998. [PMID: 9575226]  

Grants

Plaas’ research has been continuously funded since 1985 by not-for-profit sources (ARC UK, OREF, Arthritis Foundation; The Shriners of North America), the Pharmaceutical Industry (Smith Nephew Inc, Seikagaku Corporation and Pfizer Inc) and the National Institutes of Health

Research Trainees

Plaas has trained a number of pre-med, MSc and PhD graduate students in the cell biology and matrix biochemistry of cartilage, ligament and tendon. Her former mentees now hold faculty positions at the University of Calgary, Canada; Regis University, CO; Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland OH; University of Southern CA, San Diego and Tokyo Medical University, Japan. Several of her MSc and PhD students were accepted to Medical School, at University of South Florida, Florida State University and Midwestern University, IL. Plaas also provides lectures and journal clubs in molecular and cell biology to graduate and medical students at RUMC.

 
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