Rasna Sabharwal, PhD, research assistant professor in Cardiovascular Medicine, received a four-year, $2.1M R01 from the NIH for her project “Stress-induced cardiovascular dysfunction in dilated cardiomyopathy.” With this funding, Sabharwal will investigate the central mechanisms and neural circuitry of emotional stress-mediated sudden death in dilated cardiomyopathy. With more than 200,000 cases a year in the United States, dilated cardiomyopathy is identified by enlarged heart chambers and is recognized as one of the leading causes of heart failure and heart transplantation.
Sabharwal found that activation of angiotensin II type 1a receptors in the forebrain triggers neurohumoral and inflammatory surge in male, but not female, mice with dilated cardiomyopathy during stress challenges. This surge lead to premature deaths in the male mice with dilated cardiomyopathy.
“This interesting and significant finding led to our search for the mechanisms involved,” Sabharwal said. “We have generated several unique transgenic mouse strains and have developed innovative technical approaches to understand the central basis for this sexually dimorphic stress-mediated response in dilated cardiomyopathy.”
Through this research, Sabharwal says the team will be able to identify novel strategies that can ultimately lead to better clinical outcomes in dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure.
“This award is a result of several years of hard work and dedication, and the multidisciplinary expertise of the collaborative team,” Sabharwal said.