Shunguang Wei, PhD, assistant professor in Cardiovascular Medicine, received a four-year, $2.3M R01 grant from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Wei’s project will investigate the role of cytokine interleukin (IL-17A) in brain inflammation and sympathetic nervous system activation in a rat model of heart failure-induced by myocardial infarction. IL-17A is an inflammatory mediator produced mainly by T helper 17 cells.
“IL-17A is a key inflammatory regulator bridging immune responses and tissue inflammation by boosting the production of a variety of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines,” Wei said.
Wei’s project will employ multiple experimental techniques including electrophysiology, molecular biology, immunocytochemistry, pharmacology, biochemistry, and neuroscience. The team will determine how systemic IL-17A promotes inflammatory condition in the brain and how IL-17A interacts with other cytokines to increase sympathetic nerve activity in heart failure.
In addition to identifying the impact of IL-17A on brain inflammation and sympathetic nerve activity, Wei will also evaluate the potential of IL-17A as a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of heart failure.
“The proposed study targeting a master regulator of inflammation rather than a single effector cytokine and focusing on the potential role of heart-brain axis is a novel anti-inflammation approach to ameliorate heart failure symptoms,” Wei said. “We expect that completion of the research project will provide innovative insights into the current ineffective anti-cytokine strategies in treating heart failure.”
Wei predicts that this research might also have implications for other cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, since they share similar inflammatory and autonomic mechanisms.
This is Wei’s second active R01. In early 2018, Wei received a five-year, $1.91M grant, also from the NHLBI. With this previous funding, Wei has been studying the neurohumoral mechanisms of tumor necrosis factor-alpha converting enzyme (TACE) in heart failure.