How do pulmonary vessels sense low blood oxygen and what goes wrong in disease?

Does redox state of PKG1α control hypoxic vasoconstriction and remodelling in the pulmonary vasculature?

Olena Rudyk (lead researcher)

King's College London

Start date: 01 April 2015 (Duration 4 years + 1 year)

Blood vessels that connect the heart with the lungs, the pulmonary arteries, constrict when the amount of oxygen in the body is low (known as hypoxia). In short term hypoxia, this process is important because it directs blood to parts of the lung that have higher oxygen and helps oxygen delivery to tissues. However, in long periods of hypoxia, for example, in conditions such as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), the constricted pulmonary vessels become inelastic and narrowed. When this happens, the right side of the heart has to pump harder to get blood into the lungs through these narrowed vessels and eventually fails. To find ways to prevent this happening, we need to understand how pulmonary vessels constrict during hypoxia and what goes wrong in disease.

Since 2010, Dr Olena Rudyk has been studying this process in Professor Philip Eaton’s lab at King’s College London’s BHF Centre of Research Excellence. Olena has now been awarded a BHF Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellowship to investigate what chemicals in the body help to keep pulmonary vessels healthy. She hopes to identify the molecules that ‘sense’ lower levels of oxygen in the lung vessels during short term hypoxia and how this leads to blood vessel constriction. She’ll then work out what goes wrong in chronic hypoxia and how this leads to injury to the lungs and hearts.

This research will improve our understanding of hypoxia in health and disease and may reveal new ways to treat patients with lung conditions.

Project details

Grant amount £379,870
Grant type Fellowship
Application type Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellowship
Start Date 01 April 2015
Duration 4 years + 1 year
Reference FS/14/57/31138
Status In progress

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