UHealth - University of Miami Health System

Rosanna Malbran Forteza, M.D.

General Information

Rosanna  Malbran Forteza, M.D.


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  • English
  • English, Spanish


  • Research Associate Professor of Medicine

Research Interests

With an overall goal of understanding how airway epithelial cells control biological processes Dr. Malbrán Forteza lab focuses in airway epithelial biology with unique expertise in glycobiology and cell-matrix interactions. She has devoted her research career at understanding the various components of airway secretions that participate in keeping the lungs healthy and the changes observed in diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis. A unifying theme in the lab is the role that cigarette smoke, including second-hand smoke plays in the pathobiology of these diseases. Studies in her lab can be divided in three groups: Biology and biochemical aspects of the glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan. After discovering that hyaluronan is a key regulator of the enzymic activity of a kallikrein 1, an enzyme involved in bronchoconstriction, a concerted effort was established with investigators at the University of Miami and Mount Sinai Medical Center (Drs. Conner, Abraham and Salathe) to define its role airway epithelium, Those studies resulted in the discovery of a new paradigm of mucosal defense: epithelial-bound hyaluronan retains a pool of molecules important in host defense, "ready for use" and protected from ciliary clearance. Mucus hypersecretion. Changes in epithelial morphology, including goblet cell hyperplasia in major airways and metaplasia in small airways, as well as submucosal gland hypertrophy, are pathophysiological and histological hallmarks of chronic bronchitis. Her lab looks at the signaling pathways involved in synthesis and secretion of mucins 5AC and 5B. Her group observed that heterodimerization of the hyaluronan receptor CD44 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) initiate a signaling cascade that triggers goblet cell transformation and mucus hypersecretion.  Paracellular epithelial permeability. Disruptions of the epithelial barrier characterize airway inflammation. Recently her group provided evidence that layilin - a little studied hyaluronan receptor - was present in the apical surface of epithelial cells and mediate signals from extracellular matrix to the actin cytoskeleton.  Studies led to the discovery that layiln signaling is responsible for increased epithelial paracellular permeability triggered by exposure to cigarette smoke. Currently her lab is working in characterizing the function of layilin in the lungs using cell cultures and transgenic mice. Collaborations to define the structure of and binding kinetics of layilin are under way to guide future development of therapeutic agents targeting this receptor.


1995 Pulmonary Research Fellowship
University of Miami
1994 Post Doc Pulmonary Physiology and Pharmacology
University of Miami at Mount Sinai Medical Center
1990 Pulmonary Clinical Training
Sanatorio Mayo / Instituto Modelo de Cardiologia
1988 Internal Medicine Internship
Universidad Nacional de Cordoba; Hospital Cordoba
1987 M.D. Medico Cirujano
Universidad Nacional de Cordoba