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,” Li says.
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
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.
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
“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.