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Blair Dodson, PhD

Fetal Endothelial Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). Therapy in Intrauterine Growth Restriction


Blair Dodson, PhD

Blair Dodson, PhD is an engineer who is working with ways to prevent and treat IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) during pregnancy since this condition is linked to development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

IUGR is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in pregnancy. The fetal metabolic and biomechanical environment is important for both acute and chronic programming of disease affecting newborn to adult cardiovascular health. Recent studies have shown over expression of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in an IUGR animal model maintains the placental vasculature and reduces long-term cardiovascular disease. However, the cellular role of IGF-1 in maintaining fetal endothelial cell development in the metabolic and biomechanical environment of IUGR remains unclear. We hypothesize that IGF treatment will regulate insulin levels restoring metabolic levels and biomechanical response to hemodynamic stimuli protecting endothelial cells. 

To test our hypothesis, endothelial cells from control and IUGR fetal sheep will be treated with combinations of IGF-1 protein, IGF-1 gene therapy, and insulin to measure endothelial cell growth, tube formation, and migration function. Angiogenic and metabolic gene expression within the endothelial cell will be tested under in vitro physiologic and pathologic shear stress treated with IGF and insulin therapy. The significance of this study is defining the mechanisms of the IGF axis by defining the metabolic and hemodynamic roles of IUGR.