Rochester Researchers Present Range of Studies at AHA

Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center presented several findings at the Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in Chicago.

Patrizia Nigro, Pharm.D., Ph.D., presented a poster highlighting a potential therapeutic target for atherosclerosis – the hardening and narrowing of arteries and a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Nigro found that deletion of the protein cyclophilin A in mice with high cholesterol prevented the development of atherosclerosis. Cyclophilin A may be a new target to inhibit atherosclerosis formation.

Jinjiang Pang, M.D., Ph.D., gave an oral and a poster presentation on the regulation of Notch – a molecule that is extremely important for the development of blood vessels in an embryo and throughout adulthood. Pang discovered that elimination of a protein known as GIT1 speeds up Notch signaling and subsequently inhibits vessel development in the retina and lungs of mice. While Notch is a well-studied molecule, little is known about how it is regulated. This study adds to the body of knowledge surrounding Notch and may be helpful in the development of potential cardiovascular treatment targets down the road.

Cameron World, Ph.D., revealed a newly discovered mechanism by which cells survive in stressful environments, such as those created by a high fat diet or high glucose levels (as found in diabetics), allowing inflammation and cardiac disease to follow. At the center of the finding are two proteins – thioredoxin-interacting protein and thioredoxin1 – the interaction of which typically promotes cell death, but, in response to inflammatory stimuli (high fat or glucose), actually does the opposite and promotes cell survival. In the future, this specific mechanism may be a viable drug target to inhibit inflammation and related cardiac disease progression.

Additionally, Jun-ichi Abe, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor at the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute, received the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Special Recognition Award in Vascular Biology for his work studying blood flow, how it’s regulated, and its influence on inflammation and arteriosclerosis development. Mark Taubman, M.D., dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and a professor at CVRI, moderated a special editor’s session titled “The Not so Micro Effects of Microparticles.”

Moving from basic to clinical care research, the Heart Research Follow-up Program at the Medical Center gave invited presentations and shared several follow-up studies from the ground-breaking MADIT-CRT trial (Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial – Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy). Arthur Moss, M.D., published an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine commenting on a new resynchronization therapy study presented at the meeting, and the team also covered new updates related to Long QT syndrome.

Moss’ editorial, titled “Preventing Heart Failure and Improving Survival,” offered perspective on a new study by a Canadian group. The new study confirms Moss’ previous findings that cardiac resynchronization therapy plus defibrillator (CRT–D) effectively reduces risk of death or heart failure in patients with mild to moderate disease.

Moss also served as an invited participant in a moderated American Heart Association session called “Management of Patients with Inherited Arrhythmic Disorders: LQT, SQT, Brugada and More.” Wojciech Zareba, M.D., Ph.D., served as an invited panelist and moderator for a meeting session titled “Inherited Arrhythmias: Testing and Risk Assessment” as well.