The Stauffer laboratory is interested in understanding gender and age-related differences in cardiovascular disease. The laboratory currently focuses on 3 broad areas; myocardial gap junction communication, heart failure and endothelial cell function. The ongoing projects in these areas are as follows.
A sex difference in the clinical risk of sudden cardiac death has been well described. Connexin 43 (Cx43) the predominant gap junction protein in the ventricular myocardium plays a role in the predisposition to clinical arrhythmias and sudden death. The laboratory is using in vitro methods to understand differences in Cx43 expression between male and female cardiomyocytes (Funding: NIH K08).
Heart failure in children is a devastating disease with extremely high morbidity and mortality. Most clinical therapies for children with heart failure have been extrapolated from the adult heart failure literature based on the assumption that children are small adults. Remarkable the only large randomized, placebo-controlled beta blocker trial in children with heart failure demonstrated no clinical benefit of carvedilol treatment. These results are quite contrary to the well established benefit of beta blocker therapy in adults with heart failure and suggest that there are critical age-related patholophysiologic differences in heart failure. The laboratory has identified several molecular differences in the hearts of children and adults with heart failure and is currently using ex vivo and animal model experiments to develop new evidence based treatment paradigms for children with heart failure (Funding: NIH R21)
Heart failure in adults is accompanied by several pathologic changes including abnormal vascular endothelial function and mitochondrial function. Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, has been demonstrated to improve endothelial and mitochondrial function individually in other populations but has not been investigated in heart failure patients. The laboratory is currently investigating an omega-6 dietary intervention for the improvement of cardiac and vascular function in patients with heart failure (Funding: NORC Pilot grant, UC Denver).