Dr. Eric Blough publishes a study on metabolic syndrome and skeletal muscle

Dr. Eric Blough of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program recently collaborated with another Marshall University researcher on a study published in Science & Sports. Dr. Blough researches within the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity and Diabetes research cluster.


Eric Blough, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Collaboration between two Marshall University associate professors resulted in findings that were published in Science & Sports, a publication of the French Society of Sports Medicine. The research was about the effects of metabolic syndrome on skeletal muscle adaptation.

Dr. Eric Arnold, from Marshall’s School of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Eric Blough, from the School of Pharmacy, worked together on the project.

Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome, is one of the fastest growing health problems in the United States with more than one of every three adults suffering from the disorder, according to Arnold and Blough.

They also said that over the next two decades, the incidence of metabolic syndrome is projected to increase to epidemic levels in both the industrialized and developing worlds. Patients with metabolic syndrome typically are obese, suffer from insulin resistance and exhibit elevations in blood sugar and lipid levels.

“It’s important to assemble a team of experts from various health professions and scientific disciplines, to address the complexity of type 2 diabetes,” Arnold said. “That’s what it is all about, working together to research and discover an optimal therapeutic strategy for this chronic disease. Collaboration is important.”

Marshall’s researchers have been using the obese Zucker rat (Leprfa) which models many of the characteristic features of metabolic syndrome seen in humans to examine how the disorder may affect the ability of their skeletal muscles to adapt to an exercise stimulus.

“Because exercise is almost always prescribed as a treatment modality for these patients, we need to understand how skeletal muscles of someone with metabolic syndrome may respond to exercise if we ever want to optimize the therapeutic treatment of this disease,” Arnold said.

Their research, titled “Insulin resistance does not inhibit the ability of the mechanical overload to induce hypertrophy in the Obese Zucker Rat (Leprfa) plantaris muscle,” was published in April.

Significant findings provided evidence that metabolic syndrome did not impair the ability of the rat fast twitch plantaris muscle to experience hypertrophy when exposed to muscle overload as reflected by increases in myofibrillar protein content and increases in muscle fiber cross-sectional area.

“This finding is pretty interesting given that previous work by our group has shown the muscle adaptation in the slow twitch soleus muscle is impaired with metabolic syndrome,” Blough said. “This study, along with our other work, suggests that metabolic syndrome may affect different muscle types differently. This adds a level of complexity that I don’t think others have shown in the past and may have important implications in the design of exercise intervention programs.”

For more information, call Arnold at 304-696-5615 or Blough at 304-696-2708.

Ph.D. student to present diabetes research at conference next week

Aileen Marcello, Ph.D. candidateA Marshall University doctoral student will present her diabetes research next week at a conference focusing on the central nervous system.

Aileen Marcelo, a Ph.D. candidate in the university’s biomedical sciences program, will present a poster at the Barriers of the Central Nervous System Gordon Research Conference and will give a talk at the conference’s student seminar. The conference and seminar will be held June 16-22 at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H.

The conference will bring together clinical and basic scientists who are at the forefront of research into the system of regulatory interfaces between the blood and brain. This system is essential to brain function and has a major impact on the course and treatment of many neurological conditions, including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.

Although there is considerable scientific evidence implicating diabetes as a major risk factor for many central nervous system diseases, there have been few studies investigating the effects of diabetes on this blood-brain barrier. Marcelo’s research project, “The Role and Regulation of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) at the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) in a Rat Model of Diabetes,” explores this connection.

She works in the lab of Dr. Richard Egleton, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Marcelo recently received one of eight Summer Thesis Research Grant Awards presented to outstanding graduate student researchers at Marshall. Each award provides $500 to cover the cost of expenses associated with thesis research. Award recipients were chosen on the basis of the quality and significance of their thesis research, the likelihood that the research will eventuate in a completed thesis and justification of the need for support. Funding for the awards was provided by the Marshall University Research Corporation.

U.S. Senate bill could give MU $3 million for medical research

The Herald-Dispatch

WASHINGTON Marshall University could receive $3 million for medical research facilities in a bill approved by the U.S. Senate, according to a release from Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The funds would be used for development of a new Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems and was included in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. The center will be responsible for the development of new non-invasive nanotechnologies designed to detect and diagnose disease and illnesses at very early stages. Diseases that disproportionately impact rural populations, such as ovarian cancer, heart disease and diabetes will be the focus of this initial research. The new program will be housed in the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center.

“This new center will be a vital weapon in the fight against some of the most devastating diseases we face not only in West Virginia but across the country and around the world,” said Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp. “We are exceedingly grateful for this funding and look forward to continuing to work with the Senator to better the lives of all West Virginians.”