Signaling mechanisms underlying the protective actions on the cardiovascular system of existing drugs used as therapy in diabetic patients. Dr. Haining Zhang (post-doctoral fellow) is probing the signaling mechanisms that underlie the anti-hypertrophic actions of PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor) ligands such as troglitazone and fenofibrate. In particular, Dr. Zhang is focusing on signaling in the nuclei of cardiac myocytes that is elicited by such anti-diabetic drugs. This research project is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Protective effects of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on the cardiovascular system. Ms. Basma Aloud, a graduate student in the laboratory, is investigating the beneficial effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) on the heart. CLA is a dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid that occurs naturally in dairy and meat products from ruminant animals. Previous work from the lab suggests that CLA prevents abnormal growth of the heart that results from hemodynamic stressors such as hypertension. Ms. Aloud’s M.Sc. thesis work is to extend these findings by querying whether CLA might protect against the heart disease (abnormal heart structure and contractile function) that is associated with diabetes.
Elucidation of novel signaling mechanisms underlying cardiac hypertrophy. A specific example includes regulation of heart muscle cell growth by endocannabinoids. These are bioactive lipids that include amides, esters and ethers of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and occur naturally within our bodies. Ms. Yan Lu (graduate student) is studying drugs that activate the endocannabinoid system, and their ability to protect against cardiac hypertrophy. Indeed, Ms. Lu has identified distinct effects of endocannabinoids selective for CB2 cannabinoid receptors, and is currently working on the signaling pathways invoked by CB2 receptor activation. This research project is supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (Manitoba Foundation).
Mechanisms of defective artery function in hypertension, and effects of candidate dietary interventions. Recently, the laboratory utilized pressure myography of isolated arterial segments to study the vascular effects of resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound found in select foods such as red grapes and red wine. The lab then theorized that the intact grape might have added beneficial effects (as opposed to an isolated bioactive component such as resveratrol). Thus, we proceeded with a study to evaluate the effects of dietary grape consumption on hypertension and related end-organ disease. This study is supported by the California Table Grapes Commission.
Dr. Hope D. Anderson
Vice-Dean, Graduate Studies
Rady Faculty of Health Sciences
Area of research: Cardiovascular Research / Natural Products
Jessica Fraser, office assistant (Graduate Studies)