Matthew J. Flick, PhD

Academic Affiliations

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Phone 513-636-6628


Hemostatic factors and arthritis pathogenesis

Research Interests and Focus:

1. Activation of the coagulation system, including the central coagulation protease thrombin, is a prominent feature of both human rheumatoid arthritis and experimental inflammatory arthritis. The long-term goal of Dr. Flick's research program is to determine how thrombin drives inflammatory joint disease. The proposed work will fill significant gaps in the understanding of the interplay between the thrombin- fibrinogen axis and arthritic disease, and may provide the proof-of-principle for the use of novel "customized" thrombin mutants with selected substrate specificity to treat arthritis.

2. The pervasive gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus is a common pathogen that is the causative agent for a wide spectrum of diseases including skin infections, pneumonia, bacteremia, toxic-shock syndrome and sepsis. Notably, this pathogen has evolved and maintained a number of proteins that directly engage the host hemostatic system, including factors that directly interact with the host coagulation factor fibrinogen. The long-term goal of his research program is to understand how bacterial derived proteins interact with host factors to promote bacterial virulence in the context of blood-born infections. This work will provide novel insight into the molecular pathways by which S. aureus invades and disseminates within host tissues and may shed light into novel strategies for eliminating this potentially devastating infectious agent.

3. Obesity is a worldwide epidemic linked to numerous disease sequelae, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This spectrum disorder can progress from the simple accumulation of triglycerides within hepatocytes (i.e., steatosis), to inflammatory steatohepatitis, to organ failure secondary to irreversible liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Dysregulation of the coagulation system has been documented in both patients with fatty liver disease and animal models of NAFLD, but any contribution to disease progression has remained largely undefined. Using a murine model of high fat diet (HFD)-induced NAFLD, they are testing the hypothesis that thrombin activity and fibrin deposition drive local inflammatory events promoting the progression of steatosis and steatohepatitis. Comparative studies of wild-type mice with genetically imposed deficiencies or functional alterations in prothrombin, fibrinogen and other associated coagulation factor components suggests that the thrombin-fibrinogen axis influences NAFLD pathogenesis by controlling local inflammatory processes that drive steatosis and by an unanticipated and unknown mechanism tying fibrin(ogen) to HFD-induced weight gain/obesity. Their research has far-reaching implications not only for the treatment and prevention of fatty liver disease, but also for all the downstream sequelae of obesity and even the development of diet-mediated weight gain itself.

BS: Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH.

PhD: Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Post-doctoral Fellow: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Division of Developmental Biology, Cincinnati, OH.

View PubMed Publications

Flick MJ, Du X, Prasad JM, Raghu H, Palumbo JS, Smeds E, Höök M, Degen JL. Genetic elimination of the binding motif on fibrinogen for the S. aureus virulence factor ClfA improves host survival in septicemia. Blood. 2013 Jan 8.

Sullivan BP, Kassel KM, Jone A, Flick MJ, Luyendyk JP. Fibrin(ogen)-independent role of plasminogen activators in acetaminophen-induced liver injury. American Journal of Pathology. 2012;180(6):2321-2329.

Qi X, Flick MJ, Frederick M, Chu Z, Mason R, DeLay M, Thornton S. Saposin C Coupled Lipid Nanovesicles Specifically Target Arthritic Mouse Joints for Optical Imaging of Disease Severity. PLoSOne. 2012;7(3):e33966.

Vidal B, Ardite E, Suelves M, Ruiz-Bonilla V, Janué A, Flick MJ, Degen JL, Serrano AL, Muñoz-Cánoves P. Amelioration of Duchenne muscular dystrophy in mdx mice by elimination of matrix-associated fibrin-driven inflammation coupled to the αMβ2 leukocyte integrin receptor. Human Molecular Genetics. 2012;21(9):1989-2004.

Horowitz NA, Blevins EA, Miller WM, Perry AR, Talmage KE, Mullins ES, Flick MJ, Queiroz KC, Shi K, Spek CA, Conway EM, Monia BP, Weiler H, Degen JL, Palumbo JS. Thrombomodulin is a determinant of metastasis through a mechanism linked to the thrombin binding domain but not the lectin-like domain. Blood. 2011 Jul 25.

Raghu H, Flick MJ. Targeting the Coagulation Factor Fibrinogen for Arthritis Therapy. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2011 Mar 14.

Flick MJ, Chauhan AK, Frederick M, Talmage KE, Kombrinck KW, Miller W, Mullins ES, Palumbo JS, Zheng X, Esmon NL, Esmon CT, Thornton S, Becker A, Pelc LA, Di Cera E, Wagner DD, Degen JL. The development of inflammatory joint disease is attenuated in mice expressing the anticoagulant prothrombin mutant W215A/E217A. Blood. 2011 Jun 9;117(23):6326-37.

Steinbrecher KA, Horowitz NA, Blevins EA, Barney KA, Shaw MA, Harmel-Laws E, Finkelman FD, Flick MJ, Pinkerton MD, Talmage KE, Kombrinck KW, Witte DP, Palumbo JS. Colitis-associated cancer is dependent on the interplay between the hemostatic and inflammatory systems and supported by integrin alpha(M)beta(2) engagement of fibrinogen. Cancer Res. 2010 Apr 1;70(7):2634-43.

Lykens JE, Terrell CE, Zoller EE, Divanovic S, Trompette A, Karp CL, Aliberti J, Flick MJ, Jordan MB. Mice with a selective impairment of IFN-gamma signaling in macrophage lineage cells demonstrate the critical role of IFN-gamma-activated macrophages for the control of protozoan parasitic infections in vivo. J Immunol. 2010 Jan 15;184(2):877-85.

Mullins ES, Kombrinck KW, Talmage KE, Shaw MA, Witte DP, Ullman JM, Degen SJ, Sun W, Flick MJ, Degen JL. Genetic elimination of prothrombin in adult mice is not compatible with survival and results in spontaneous hemorrhagic events in both heart and brain. Blood. 2009 Jan 15;113(3):696-704.

NIH, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Research. Director. Cincinnati Rheumatic Diseases Core Center. Aug 2011-Jun 2016. 2P30 AR47363.

Hemostatic factors and sickle cell disease. Co-investigator. NIH. Dec 2011-Nov 2016. R01 HLI12603.