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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Professor David Kaye and Dr Waled Shihata

Heart failure is the commonest cardiovascular cause for hospital admission in people aged >65years. It has become increasingly evident that HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is the commonest form of HF, accounting for more than 50% of all cases. Concerningly, to date, no therapy has been shown to improve survival or to consistently reduce hospitalisation and quality of life. As such, HFpEF remains an area of major unmet clinical need. The pathophysiology of HFpEF is complex, with major cardiovascular elements related to increased myocardial and arterial stiffness. These features are related to ageing and concomitant hypertension. Recent theories have also focused on the potential role of the venous circulation and its stiffness, given that venous compliance is an important contributor to the mean circulatory filling pressure.

This study will investigate venous compliance in animal models and in patients.

Project summary

Our laboratory has established models in mice designed to recapitulate features of HFpEF. These studies are performed in ageing hypertensive mice and in obese mice. In this study we plan to collect the vena cava and study the mechanical properties (stiffness) and to study the histological, cellular and molecular properties compared to healthy mice.

We will also conduct a study in HFpEF patients to investigate the stiffness of veins. This will be conducted by measuring the pressure inside veins concomitantly with the diameter under various states, to construct a compliance relationship.

By understanding the way in which veins remodel, and the stimuli that drive the process we hope to develop better treatments for HFpEF.

It is ideally suited for an BMedSci student and will involve applying various skills and techniques, including:

  • preclinical procedures
  • human research
  • molecular biology
  • Western blots
  • data analysis
  • PCR.

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