Fariba  Rezaee,  MD, FAAP

Fariba Rezaee, MD, FAAP


Center for Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine

Lerner Research Institute, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195


Twitter @faribarezaee3
Research Gate

My lab is interested in investigating the impact of viral infection and environmental factors on airway epithelial barrier and inflammation. Regulation of airway epithelial barrier is one of the new frontiers in mucosal biology with relevance to respiratory viral infections and asthma.

My laboratory research primarily focuses on the signaling pathways responsible for the change in the integrity of airway epithelial junctional complexes following RSV infection, an area with many ambiguities.

Multiple epidemiologic studies report that exposure to environmental pollutants increases the risk of respiratory disease. However, the involved mechanisms remain unclear. Our study shows that disruption of the airway barrier by nanoparticles worsens RSV-induced airway injury and inflammation.

The goal of my research is to further identify further the molecular mechanisms of respiratory RSV-induced disruption of the airway epithelial barrier and how environmental pollutants exacerbate RSV infection and augment RSV-induced airway barrier disruption. We use combinations of studies using human airway epithelial cells as well as mouse models and to approach these problems.

In other words...

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in young children worldwide. More than 33 million occurrences of RSV-related bronchiolitis have been estimated globally, with 3 million children requiring hospitalization. RSV is also a significant source of morbidity and mortality in elderly and high-risk adults.

There are strong associations between RSV, persistent wheezing, and childhood asthma. Despite extensive research, no effective treatment is available for RSV infection, aside from supportive care.

Nearly all children become infected with RSV by age 2, and while most experience a mild, self-limiting illness, some develop severe infection and persistent airway disease. While many host factors associated with disease severity such as prematurity, age, or underlying chronic lung diseases are well-described, the associations of RSV infection with many environmental exposures are not yet fully understood. For example, exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) has been linked to pulmonary diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, otitis media, and severe viral infection in multiple epidemiologic studies.

My laboratory investigates the mechanisms by which RSV infection injures the epithelial cell lining of human airways, and how exposure to environmental pollution enhances the severity of that injury. Identifying the mechanisms by which RSV and air pollution affect the lungs will aid the design of agents that specifically target virus-mediated pathology, and will have a significant impact on the well-being of both children and adults suffering from RSV.

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Dr. Nannan Gao received an Abstract Scholarship from ATS 2022 International Conference. The scholarship includes a full In-Training Registration for the 2022 ATS International Conference.


Dr. Nannan Gao was selected as the recipient of the 2021 Mark Lauer Pediatric Young Investigator Research Grant awarded by the Pediatric Institute, Cleveland Clinic Children's. The $50,000 grant is titled “Investigating the Role of Actin Network and Cortactin in Airway Epithelial Barrier Disruption by RSV Infection." Read more on the intranet (Cleveland Clinic employees only).

Dr. Gao was also selected as a recipient of the 2021 LRI Trainee Alumni Association Postdoc Training Award.

Selected publications

  1. Linfield DT, Aghapour M, Raduka A, Rezaee F. (2021) Airway tight junction as Targets of viral infections. Tissue Barriers. Feb 26:1883965. doi: 10.1080/21688370.2021.1883965. Epub ahead of print. PubMed PMID: 33632074.
  2. Harford TJ, Grove L, Rezaee F, Scheraga R, Olman MA, Piedimonte G. (2021) RSV infection potentiates TRPV1-mediated calcium transport in bronchial epithelium of asthmatic children. Accepted March 2021 Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol, PMID: 33787326 
  3. Linfield DT, Gao N, Raduka A, Harford T. J, Piedimonte G, Rezaee F. (2021) Respiratory syncytial virus infection attenuates epithelial cell restitution by inhibiting actin cytoskeleton-dependent cell migration. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. DOI: 10.1152/ajplung.00118.2021 
  4. Harford TJ, Rezaee F, Gupta MK, Bokun V, Nega Prasad SV, Piedimonte G. (2021). Respiratory syncytial virus induces β2-adrenergic receptor dysfunction in airway smooth muscle cells. Science Signaling. DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.abc1983 
  5. Corcoran A, Carl JC, Rezaee F(2020) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30489157/
  6. Smallcombe CC. Linfield DT, Harford TJ, Bokun V, Piedimonte G, Ivanov AI, Rezaee F.(2019) Disruption of the Airway Epithelial Barrier in a Murine Model of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 316(2):L358-L368.  PubMed PMID: 30489157; PubMed Central PMCID: P
  7. Manti S,Harford TJ, Rezaee FPiedimonte G. (2018) High Mobility Group Box-1 Inhibition Protects Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection. Pediatric Research. 83(5):1049-1056.  PubMed PMID: 29329282; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5959750.
  8. Marquardsen FA, Baldin F, Wunderer F, Al-Herz W, Mikhael R, Lefranc G, Baz Z, Rezaee F, Hanna R, Kfir-Erenfeld S, Stepensky P, Meyer B, Jauch A, Bigler MB, Burgener AV, Higgins R, Navarini AA, Church JA, Chou J, Geha R, Notarangelo LD, Hess C, Berger CT, Bloch DB, Recher M. (2017) Detection of Sp110 by flow-cytometry and application to screening patients for veno-occlusive disease with immunodeficiency. J Clin Immunol. 37(7):707-714.  PubMed PMID: 28825155; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6069968.
  9. Rezaee F, Harford TJ, Linfield LT, Midura RJ, Ivanov AI, Piedimonte G.  (2017) cAMP-Dependent Activation of Protein Kinase A Attenuates Respiratory Syncytial Virus-Induced Human Airway Epithelial Barrier  Disruption. PLoS One. 12(7):e0181876.  PubMed PMID: 28759570; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5536269.
  10. Rezaee F, Linfield LT, Harford TJ, Piedimonte G. (2017) Ongoing Developments in RSV Prophylaxis: A Clinician’s Analysis. Current opinion in virology. 24:70-78.  Review. PubMed PMID: 28500974; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5541395. The figure was selected for the journal cover.
  11. Rezaee, F. (2016) Airway Epithelial Barrier Dysfunction in Response to Respiratory Syncytial Virus: Readying the Research for Animal Model Replication. Pediatric Perspectives, 38-39.

06/23/2020 |  

Chronic E-Cigarette Use Linked with Long-Term Lung Injury in Teens, Reports New Study

New research led by Dr. Rezaee builds upon a growing body of evidence that points to vaping products containing THC as most harmful for teens and adolescents.

09/01/2020 |  

Study Finds Air Pollution Can Impact the Pathology of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Common in Children

Dr. Rezaee showed that nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, a pollutant found in many household and personal care products, exacerbates RSV-associated airway inflammation and other disease-related changes.