Cardiovascular Research Directives

Aging is thought to be the major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and is associated with alterations in cardiac morphology, signaling, and contractile function [1]. Even in the absence of disease, aging in the heart is characterized by cardiomyocyte loss, left ventricular hypertrophy, changes in ventricular volume, decreases in fractional shortening and reduced cardiac output [2].

There are two main research areas under investigation:

  1. To determine how aging, gender and cardiovascular disease may cardiac miRNA expression.

    Micro-RNA (miRNA) are a class of highly conserved, noncoding RNAs involved in posttranscriptional gene regulation. Given the potential role that these molecules may play in regulating changes in protein abundance it is likely that they may also play a role in controlling the adaptation of striated muscle to alterations in mechanical loading and increased contractile activity. To date, very little is known how aging and disease may affect miRNA expression in the heart. Studies are performed employing animal models, cell culture and using a variety of molecular approaches.

  2. Endothelial function, regulation of endothelial miRNA and cardiovascular risk.

    In this area of inquiry we are investigating how changes in endothelial function might be related to changes in gene and protein expression. Using a novel sampling technique we are able to harvest endothelial cells from different types of clinical populations. Endothelial function along with the analysis of endothelial protein expression and circulating mediators of inflammation are measured with the hopes of better how cardiovascular risk may be quantified and controlled.

Images of isolated human endothelial cell and quantification of activated eNOS.
Images of isolated human endothelial cell and quantification of activated eNOS.
  1. Lakatta E. Aging effects on the vasculature in health: risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Am J Geriatr Cardiol 1994; 3: 11–17.
  2. Lakatta EG, Sollott SJ. Perspectives on mammalian cardiovascular aging: humans to molecules. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol 2002; 132: 699–721.