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Ji Li and his colleagues are learning how aging may impair the heart's ability to respond to stress caused by ischemia.

Grant Funds Study of Key Heart-Protective Pathway

Published February 25, 2013

Ji Li, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, has received a $198,000 grant from the Founders Affiliate of the American Heart Association to study a novel signaling pathway that, when activated, helps protect the heart from damage caused by ischemia.

“This research has the potential to discover new therapeutic strategies to limit myocardial dysfunction in the elderly.”
Ji Li, PhD
Assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology

“This research has the potential to discover new therapeutic strategies to limit myocardial dysfunction in the elderly,” Li says.

Impaired Signaling Response Appears Age Related

Li and collaborators from Yale University hypothesize that aging is associated with a decline in the ability of cardiac cells to render the  MIF-AMPK signaling cascade active in response to ischemia and reperfusion, thus resulting in exacerbated injury.

Through their latest project, they will further explore the physiological role of this cardioprotective signaling response and how aging may impair it.

They will also seek to better understand the overall relationship between aging and ischemic heart disease, toward the goal of providing novel strategies for improving clinical outcomes in elderly patients.

70-Plus Face Greater Heart Damage

Ischemic heart disease, which leads to myocardial damage, affects approximately 1 million Americans each year, and older people are most at risk. Those older than 70 are more likely to die following myocardial infarction, coronary angioplasty or cardiac surgery.

“Evidence now shows that there is an impaired cardioprotective signaling response to ischemia in the aged heart that leads to an increased susceptibility to myocardial infarction in the elderly,” says Li.