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Central cardiovascular control: uncovering the role of inflammatory cytokines in the area postrema

This project will investigate the effects of different cytokines such as CX3CL1 (fractalkine) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) within the area postrema. 

Aims

For this project we will be asking the following questions:

What are the cardiovascular effects of CX3CL1 and TNF-α when applied directly to the area postrema?

Are the cardiovascular effects of these cytokines altered in hypertension and heart failure?

The area postrema is a circumventricular organ located in the brain stem. Because it lacks a blood-brain barrier the area postrema is exposed to a wide range of factors found in the circulation. There is much evidence to suggest that inflammatory cytokines are increased in a number of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and heart failure. However, the cardiovascular effect of these cytokines when exogenously applied to the area postrema is not currently known.

The successful completion of the project will increase our understanding of the role of cytokines in driving changes in blood pressure at the level of the area postrema and how this signaling might be altered in disease states such as hypertension and heart failure.

Techniques involved:

Small animal surgery (induction of myocardial infarction and hypertension)

Stereotaxic microinjections

Tissue sectioning

Microscopy (light, fluorescence, confocal)

Further Reading:

Ruchaya et al. (2014) Experimental Physiology, 99(1) 111-122.

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