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Hein, Travis Professor


My laboratory studies the regulation of microvascular function at the level of arterioles in the retinal and coronary circulations. Sufficient blood flow supply of oxygen and nutrients to tissues to maintain normal function is controlled in large part by changes in the diameter of arterioles. Vasoconstriction or vasodilation of these small arteries will decrease or increase blood flow and nutrient delivery to the tissue, respectively. Two key chemical factors that are produced within the endothelial cells of blood vessels to control their diameter are nitric oxide (NO), a vasodilator, and endothelin-1, a vasoconstrictor. An imbalance in the production and/or release of these vasoactive factors has been implicated in the early stages of several cardiovascular diseases, but the underlying mechanisms contributing to these pathophysiological changes remain unclear. To address this knowledge gap, our research focuses on identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to the vasomotor responses of arterioles to NO and endothelin-1 under conditions of health and disease. Current approaches that we use to investigate these mechanisms in the microcirculation include isolated and perfused arterioles, cultured vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells, biochemical and molecular techniques (for detection of NO, superoxide anion, protein, and mRNA in arterioles), pharmacological and silencing RNA (siRNA) treatments, and blood flow velocity assessment via Doppler ultrasound.

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  • Professor