Molecular and Genetic Cardiovascular Pathophysiology

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the main health and socio-economic problem worldwide, in part due to the progressive aging that the world population is experiencing. Atherosclerosis and heart failure contribute significantly to CVD-related morbimortality in the elderly. These anomalies and the aging process are much accelerated in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), a rare genetic disorder (prevalence about 1 in 18 million) caused by the expression of progerin, a mutant form of lamin A. The most serious aspect of HGPS is extensive atherosclerosis and cardiac electrophysiological alterations which are associated with early death (average lifespan: 14.6 yr), predominantly from myocardial infarction or stroke. Progerin is also expressed at low level in aged tissues of non-HGPS individuals, suggesting a role in normal aging. Understanding how progerin causes CVD and premature aging may therefore shed light on normal aging.

Our research currently focuses on:

  1. Identifying mechanisms through which wild-type lamin A/C regulate CVD.
  2. Identifying systemic and tissue-specific factors and extracellular matrix alterations that contribute to HGPS and associated CVD, and the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms, to identify new therapeutic targets.
  3. Generating a porcine model of HGPS for preclinical translational research.