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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Judy de Haan and Professor Geoff Head

Research focus

This project will assess the protective effect of novel antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds on the development of endothelial dysfunction in a hypertensive and diabetic setting.

Project summary

Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, affecting more than 600 million people worldwide. Within the broader group of hypertensive patients there are subgroups of patients where an associated pathology might drive the hypertension. One such group includes diabetes-associated hypertension and is the focus of this project.

Experimental evidence shows that reactive oxygen species (ROS) play an important role in the pathophysiology of diabetes-associated hypertension. Damage to the vascular endothelium, also known as endothelial dysfunction (ED), is an early event and a major player in the pathophysiology of hypertension. Recent studies indicate that oxidative stress leads to ED and is increased in patients with hypertension. Furthermore, oxidative stress is found to be associated with inflammation and vascular remodeling. 
We have access to novel activators of a key regulator of oxidative stress, the transcription factor Nrf2. We will use these activators to investigate the role of Nrf2 activation in limiting oxidative stress and inflammatory activities in mouse models of diabetes-associated hypertension. This will be investigated in diabetic inbred hypertensive mice. Our approach has the potential to establish Nrf2 activation as a unique treatment option for diabetes-associated hypertension.

This project is suitable for a PhDHonours or Masters student and will use various techniques, including:

  • in vivo models of diabetes and hypertension
  • vascular reactivity studies
  • RNA isolation and qRT-PCR
  • protein isolation and Western blotting
  • ELISA
  • histology
  • immunohistochemistry.

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With the rising number of Australians affected by diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the need for research is more critical than ever.

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