Lillian Cruz-Orengo, Ph.D.

 Lillian  Cruz-Orengo, Ph.D.


  • Assistant Professor
  • Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology

Sexual dimorphism, Blood-Brain Barrier, Autoimmunity and Neuroimmunology

Research Summary

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a devastating disease and the second leading cause of neurologic deficits in young adults, characterized by the pathological trafficking of autoreactive-leukocytes into the central nervous system (CNS). Sadly, MS exhibits a high sex-bias, affecting three times more women than men. Women commonly exhibit the relapsing-remitting (RRMS) form of the disease, suggesting a role for sex steroids in the neuropathogenesis of MS. The mechanisms underlying sex differences in MS and whether they predominately affect immune responses, CNS susceptibility to inflammation, or both, are unclear. Specifically, my research focuses on sexual dimorphism of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) microvasculature as a relevant contributor to MS neuropathogenesis with the purpose of developing sex-specific therapeutic targets. Towards this goal, we are dedicated to uncovering the molecular mechanism underlying changes in apicobasal polarity of the BBB. Using the chemokine ligand CXCL12, a key regulator of immune trafficking into the CNS as a biomarker we hope to understand how BBB polarity is differentially regulated in females during CNS autoimmunity aiming to the development of treatments that will improve the quality of life of women suffering from RRMS.

Selected Publications

  1. 2014 Daniels BP, Holman DW, Cruz-Orengo L, Jujjavarapu H, Durrant DM, Klein RS Viral pathogen-associated molecular patterns regulate blood-brain barrier integrity via completing innate cytokine signals mBio.
  2. 2014 Cruz-Orengo L, Daniels BP, Dorsey D, Basak SA, Grajales-Reyes JG, McCandless EE, Piccio L, Schmidt RE, Cross AH, Crosby SD, Klein RS Enhanced sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 2 expression underlies female CNS autoimmunity susceptibility. The Journal of Clinical Investigation,
  3. 2013 Daniels BP, Cruz-Orengo L, Pasieka TJ, Couraud PO, Romero IA, Weksler B, Cooper JA, Doering TL, Klein RSImmortalized human cerebral microvascular endothelial cells maintain the properties of primary cells in an in vitro model of immune migration across the blood brain barrier. Journal of Neuroscience Methods,
  4. 2011 Cruz-Orengo L, Chen YJ, Kim JH, Dorsey D, Song SK, Klein RS CXCR7 antagonism prevents axonal injury during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis as revealed by in vivo axial diffusivity. Journal of Neuroinflammation,
  5. 2011 Cruz-Orengo L, Holman DW, Dorsey D, Zhou L, Zhang P, Wright M, McCandless EE, Patel JR, Luker GD, Littman DR, Russell JH, Klein RS CXCR7 influences leukocyte entry into the CNS parenchyma by controlling abluminal CXCL12 abundance during autoimmunity. The Journal of Experimental Medicine,
  6. 2008 Cruz-Orengo L, Dhaka A, Heuermann RJ, Young TJ, Montana MC, Cavanaugh EJ, Kim D, Story GM Cutaneous nociception evoked by 15-delta PGJ2 via activation of ion channel TRPA1. Molecular Pain,
  7. 2007 Cruz-Orengo L, Figueroa JD, Torrado A, Puig A, Whittemore SR, Miranda JD Reduction of EphA4 receptor expression after spinal cord injury does not induce axonal regeneration or return of tcMMEP response. Neuroscience Letters,
  8. 2006 Cruz-Orengo L, Figueroa JD, Velázquez I, Torrado A, Ortíz C, Hernández C, Puig A, Segarra AC, Whittemore SR, Miranda JD Blocking EphA4 upregulation after spinal cord injury results in enhanced chronic pain. Experimental Neurology,
  9. 2005 Irizarry-Ramírez M, Willson CA, Cruz-Orengo L, Figueroa J, Velázquez I, Jones H, Foster RD, Whittemore SR, Miranda JD Upregulation of EphA3 receptor after spinal cord injury. Journal of Neurotrauma,
  10. 2002 Willson CA, Irizarry-Ramírez M, Gaskins HE, Cruz-Orengo L, Figueroa, JD, Whittemore SR, Miranda JD Upregulation of EphA receptor expression in the injured adult rat spinal cord. Cell Transplantation,


Graduate Group in Immunology

CAMPOS Faculty Scholar