Division of Medical Physiology
Project Leaders and Projects
- Prof Amanda Lochner (PhD, D.Sc): The beta3-adrenergic receptor and cardioprotection; The mechanism whereby melatonin reverses the harmful effects of obesity; Myocardial mitophagy and the metabolic syndrome.
- Prof Barbara Huisamen (PhD): The involvement of the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein in the development of a diabetic cardiomyopathy; The role of mitophagy during ischaemia and reperfusion of the heart in obesity related insulin resistance and the potential of melatonin to influence these processe; Fractionation of extracts of Cyclopia species and their potential anti-obesity properties (in collaboration with Dr C Pheiffer at the MRC); The possible use of substances isolated from Aspalatus linearis as anti-diabetic and cardioprotective substances (in collaboration with Dr R Johnson at the MRC)
- Dr Erna Marais (PhD): The role of Exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (Epac) in the protection against ischaemia/reperfusion injury of the heart; Epac’s (exchange protein directly activated by cAMP) role in obesity-induced cardiovascular diseases by exerting anti- endothelial dysfunction and vasculoprotective effects; The treatment effect of Rooibos tea on vascular dysfunction and signalling mechanisms of diet-induced obese rat aortas.
- Dr Derick van Vuuren (PhD): Protein phosphorylation and the balance between kinase and phosphatase activity in myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury.
- Prof Hans Strijdom (MBChB, PhD): Induction of endothelial injury in a cell model of cardiac and aortic endothelial cells and investigating cellular mechanisms; establishment of a protocol to harvest and culture primary rat aortic endothelial cells from lean and obese rats for investigating underlying mechanisms; investigation into heterogeneity between cardiac microvascular and aortic endothelial cells; establishment of an ex vivo model to measure vascular endothelial function in aorta segments; the effects of anti-dyslipidaemic drugs (fenofibrate and statins) on cultured endothelial cells and isolated aortic segments; investigating the putative protective effects of rooibos and melatonin (in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro) on the cardiovascular system of rats exposed to nicotine. In 2014, Prof Strijdom received a major EU-Africa grant (ERAfrica grant of the EU 7th Framework Programme) to form an international, multi-centre research consortium, including Belgium and Austria. Prof Strijdom is the project coordinator. The study (called "EndoAfrica") will investigate the effects of HIV-infection and antiretroviral treatment on the endothelial function of populations in Cape Town, Potchefstroom and Mthatha. Prof Strijdom is also collaborating with Dr Peace Mabeta from University of Pretoria on the role of Src in an endothelial tumour cell line (endothelioma).
- Dr John Lopes (PhD): Our research focuses on identifying the role of phosphodiesterases in promoting heart cell death and protection during heart attack conditions (ischemia/reperfusion). To this end we have established culture conditions for adult rat heart cells in 96 well plates, which has the capacity to serve as a high throughput system, and is the main model used in our research.
- Dr Shantal Windvogel (PhD): The modulating effects of indigenous plants (Rooibos, Honeybush
and Sutherlandia) on vascular function and antioxidant enzyme activity in
various animal models at risk of cardiovascular disease.