Recent Projects

The Impact of Inflammation on Cellular Aging

March 22, 2018

Research Background

Our laboratory aims to investigate the intersection of psychological stress, nutrition, and physical activity to understand how stress gets “under your skin” and contributes to disease, including cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer.

Exercise-induced lactate and immune cell function

March 21, 2018

Primary Investigator: Dr. Lee Franco

Other Investigators: Anson Blanks

Cardiovascular disease may be characterized by a skewing of macrophage polarization from the anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype towards the pro-inflammatory M1 phenotype. Lactate, a by-product of cell metabolism which is increased in circulation during intense exercise, has been shown to skew the monocyte to macrophage transition towards the anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype in cell culture models. Lactate induced M2 skewing may help to maintain M1/M2 macrophage balance which may be a possible mechanism through which intense exercise helps to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease. The current study aims to determine the effects of exercise induced lactate accumulation in humans on several cellular processes that are known to influence the monocyte to macrophage transition as well macrophage polarization.

VCU-ART3

March 20, 2018

Primary Investigator: Dr. Lee Franco

Other Investigators: Anson Blanks

Chronic heart failure (CHF) is often a result of myocardial damage following ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). This damage is due in part to the recruitment of inflammatory monocytes by activation of the CCR2 receptor. Previous studies have suggested that Anakinra, an IL-1β receptor antagonist, may help to prevent the development of CHF, although the mechanism(s) responsible remain largely unknown. VCU-ART3 is a double-blind randomized clinical trial of Anakinra high dose vs Anakinra standard dose vs placebo in STEMI patients that aims to measure the effects of Anakinra on monocyte CCR2 expression during the first 14 days following STEMI.

LPS-Induced iNOS mRNA and Pro-Apoptotic Signaling

March 19, 2018

Primary Investigator: Dr. Ed Acevedo

Other Investigators: Aaron Slusher, Tiffany Zuniga

This study seeks to understand the potential role of iNOS in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and to investigate how the effect of aerobic exercise training may alter iNOS mRNA expression in leukocytes, thereby influencing the pro-apoptotic pathway to sustain cellular regulation.

PTSD, Vascular Function, and Exercise Tolerance Study

March 16, 2018

Primary Investigator: Dr. Ryan Garten

This study aims to identify the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on peripheral vascular function, oxidative stress/inflammation, and exercise tolerance in young individuals.

Reductive Stress Study

March 15, 2018

Primary Investigator: Dr. Ryan Garten

This study examines the impact of 28 days of antioxidant supplementation on vascular function and exercise tolerance in young, healthy individuals.

Sleep Quality and CVD Risk Study

March 14, 2018

Primary Investigator: Dr. Ryan Garten

The study seeks to identify the impact of sleep quality on peripheral vascular dysfunction (an early indicator of CVD).

Prolonged Sitting and Vascular Function Study

March 12, 2018

Primary Investigator: Dr. Ryan Garten

This study examines the mechanisms behind prolonged sitting-induced vascular dysfunction and how age, gender, and aerobic capacity alter the magnitude of this dysfunction.