Dru Wilkerson

Major: Forensic and Investigative Science and Chemistry
Purdue School of Science
Supervisor: Dr. Alexander Obukhov
Department: Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology; School of Medicine

Role of TRP Channels in the Cardiovascular System

Atherosclerosis is a disease when the arteries in the heart and/or systemic circulation begin to harden due to the build-up of cholesterol, calcium, macrophages, and foam cells in the subendothelial space of the vascular wall. People with severe obesity are especially at high risk for developing atherosclerosis. Several studies have shown that activation of certain cation channels within vascular cells may be associated with atherosclerosis development. In this project, we determine if the suspected ion channels, TRPC1, TRPC6, and TRPV1can facilitate atherosclerosis in mouse aortas. A critical part of TRPC1 and TRPC6 genes were genetically ablated in atherosclerosis prone ApoE-/- mice. Atherosclerosis development was compared in these and control ApoE-/- mice expressing TRPC1 and TRPC6. Their hearts and aortas were collected and dissected from the connective tissue. Sections of the aortas were fixed and mounted on glass slides and subjected to immunohistochemical staining. The stained aortic sections were photographed and analyzed to determine the presence of atherosclerosis build up in the aortas. The goal of the project is to further understand the mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis progression.