Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in aging women. Although women have decreased cardiovascular risk during the reproductive years, menopause rapidly accelerates arterial stiffening and cardiovascular disease. Arterial stiffness refers to the changes in structure and function of the arterial wall and can be the result of many factors such as aging or injury. Increased arterial stiffness can lead to increased risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease. G-protein-coupled estrogen receptors (GPERs) are membrane bound receptors whose localization and signaling differs from the classical nuclear estrogen receptors. Decreased expression of GPERs due to aging may promote vascular disease and exacerbate detrimental remodeling due to the loss of steroid hormones post menopause. Current estrogen replacement therapies can have adverse side effects and do not confer the same protection offered by estrogen during the reproductive years. Therefore, studying the mechanical properties of arteries and the effect of GPER on arterial stiffness could lead to improved therapies. Thus, the objective of this study was to perform a pilot study using biaxial mechanical testing to explore the mechanical properties of murine mesenteric arteries and how GPER contributed to arterial stiffening in these arteries. An additional goal of this study was to quantify residual strain and collagen composition as a function of GPER and sex in the mesenteric artery. Analysis of the results from biaxial testing, opening angle, and histology will be able to tell us the effect of GPER on arteries as they age and differences between male and female arteries.
This grant was essential is funding my living expenses in New Orleans over the summer. Staying in the lab over the summer gave me the time to conduct time intensive experiments such as biaxial mechanical testing. I hope to use some of the data and experience gained over the summer to write a thesis in Biomedical Engineering during my senior year. Being in a lab setting
also gave me a sense of the day to day activities of a full-time academic researcher. It gave me an appreciation for the importance of not only conducting experiments but familiarizing oneself with the vast amount of scientific literature in the field. Being a scientist takes a large amount of dedication and ambition and has taught me that it is important to keep going even if something does not work the first time. It made me motivated to possibly pursue research in my future career. Overall, the Newcomb-Tulane grant gave me an invaluable experience that is sure to help me in my future endeavors.
Written by Shreya Gunda, Dean’s Grant recipient, 2018