Projects

 

We are using physiological genomics approach, employing cDNA Arrays analyses to determine changes (caused by inflammation) in the multi-gene patterns of expression in the heart and spinal cord to examine how the nervous system can alter the patterns of gene expression.

Techniques used in this research include:

  • Electrophysiology
  • Cellular Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Microdialysis

My research program is also addressing how detrimental consequences of heart disease can be reduced or eliminated. To address these clinical problems, I have organized an International Working Group on Neurocardiology composed of clinical and basic scientists from Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada and the United States.

This group is working together to provide new insights about normal processing of cardiovascular sensory information that are important to the coordinated performance in each region of the heart. In addition, these studies will yield new information to understand the complex mechanisms underlying such devastating conditions as refractory angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmias, ventricular ischemia and heart failure. These studies are supported by industrial contracts.

Neural mechanisms of sudden cardiac death, and the identification of measures to predict this deadly event, are presently being studied with Dr. Philip B. Adamson and our Italian clinical scientists, Dr. Peter Schwartz and Dr. Emilio Vanoli. This collaboration has been done for more than 20 years. An animal model has been developed to mimic what happens in patients who have poor blood flow in the heart and heart attacks. We study how the central and peripheral autonomic reflexes affect the performance of animals with normal and infarcted hearts. The animals are usually tested while they are exercising on a treadmill. Sympathetic and parasympathetic activity are studied during these exercise routines. Measurements from the heart and nervous system are made to identify ways to predict the animals, or patients that might experience sudden cardiac death. These studies are important for helping to identify patients who are at risk for dying suddenly from heart disease. The work is supported by pharmaceutical contracts.

Alterations in visceral sensation contribute to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) including abdominal cramping and pain, and abnormal bowel habits. These symptoms are often initiated or become worse with episodes of stress and anxiety. These alterations suggest a link between cognitive and peripheral autonomic activity. Since stress and anxiety are linked to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, we are interested in how limbic system, which is involved with stress and anxiety, induces changes the behavior of gastrointestinal tract. These studies are supported by the National Institutes of Health.