Controlling the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance

Healthcare-associated infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria are costly and deadly. Michael Rubin, MD, and Matthew Samore, MD, generated new evidence on the effect of infection-prevention practices on the transmission of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, particularly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Continue reading → Controlling the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance

Myocardial Recovery in Chronic Heart Failure

Chronic heart failure is a disease with poor prognosis and currently is a global epidemic. University of Utah Health investigator Stavros George Drakos, MD, and colleagues analyzed human heart tissue and produced evidence refuting the widely held notion that prolonged off-loading of the failing heart induced by cardiac assist devices results in disuse atrophy that further deteriorates heart function. Continue reading → Myocardial Recovery in Chronic Heart Failure

Megakaryocytes and Platelets in Immune and Inflammatory Responses and in COVID-19

Platelets—small cells which circulate in abundance in the bloodstream—are traditionally known for their ability to form clots and stop bleeding. Recent studies, however, have shown that platelets and their parent cells, megakaryocytes, also play a role in inflammation and infection. University of Utah Health investigators Robert Campbell, PhD, and Matthew Rondina, MD, and colleagues discovered that platelets and megakaryocytes respond robustly to infection, including COVID-19. These infection-driven changes in platelets activate clotting mechanisms and thus may contribute to the blood clots that complicate COVID-19 infection. Continue reading → Megakaryocytes and Platelets in Immune and Inflammatory Responses and in COVID-19

Unexpected Antiviral Activity of Spironolactone

Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is a human herpesvirus associated with clinical infections and several types of malignancies. Sankar Swaminathan, MD, and colleagues showed that a hypertension/heart failure drug, spironolactone, also has anti-EBV effects. Continue reading → Unexpected Antiviral Activity of Spironolactone

New Class of Therapy for Chronic Heart Failure

The lab directed by Robin Shaw (MD, PhD) and Nora Eccles Harrison Cardiovascular Research & Training Institute (CVRTI) Investigators have identified an architectural protein (cBIN1) of heart muscle cells that organizes the intracellular signalizing network responsible for heart muscle contraction and relaxation. Continue reading → New Class of Therapy for Chronic Heart Failure

Enhancing Decision-making for Diagnosis and Management of Respiratory Infection

Barbara Jones, MD, and Matthew Samore, MD, used national data from the Department of Veterans Affairs to examine decision-making and practice patterns among providers prescribing antibiotics for patients diagnosed with acute respiratory infection. Continue reading → Enhancing Decision-making for Diagnosis and Management of Respiratory Infection

How Iron Deficiency Impairs Pancreatic β-Cell Function

Research in the lab of Elizabeth Leibold, PhD, showed that in mice with iron deficiency, proinsulin processing to mature insulin was impaired, resulting in reduced levels of circulating and glucose intolerance. Mice treated with iron restored insulin to normal levels and eliminated the glucose intolerance. Continue reading → How Iron Deficiency Impairs Pancreatic β-Cell Function

Finding New Ways to Treat Kidney Disease

Research in the Kohan lab, using genetically engineered mice, has helped identify the peptide, endothelin-1, and its receptor, ETA, as key regulators of blood pressure and kidney function in health. They have also helped determine that kidney ET-1 production is increased in many kidney diseases and, via activation of ETA receptors on most kidney cell types, leads to inflammation, scarring and decreased kidney function. Continue reading → Finding New Ways to Treat Kidney Disease

A Genetic Mechanism Contributing to Racial Differences in Vascular Disease

Heart attacks and strokes result from clots formed in the blood vessels of the heart or brain, respectively. The laboratory of Paul Bray, MD, demonstrated that platelets from Black individuals were more reactive than those from White individuals, suggesting a genetic basis for some of the racial discrepancy observed in vascular diseases associated with clotting. Continue reading → A Genetic Mechanism Contributing to Racial Differences in Vascular Disease

Neural and Cardiac Responses to Hypoglycemia

The laboratories of Simon Fisher, MD, Owen Chan, PhD, and Candace Reno, PhD, demonstrated that brain glucose sensing was impaired in rats with recurrent hypoglycemia as a result of defective glucose and lactate metabolism within the neurons and astrocytes in the hypothalamus. The resultant abnormal release of neurotransmitters—such as GABA, glutamate and dopamine—led to inadequate activation of hormonal responses to hypoglycemia. Continue reading → Neural and Cardiac Responses to Hypoglycemia

ARF6 Plays Key Role in Diabetes-Induced Blindness

University of Utah Health researcher Weiquan Zhu, PhD, and colleagues identified a protein, known as ARF6, which regulates the effects of VEGF by maintaining and amplifying its receptor signaling, thus stimulating a series of cascading responses that lead to diabetic retinal edema. Continue reading → ARF6 Plays Key Role in Diabetes-Induced Blindness

The Power of mRNA in Anucleate Platelets

Andrew Weyrich, MD, and his group made the seminal discovery that anucleate human platelets transform messenger RNA (mRNA) into mature products that code for protein. More recently, his group found that a specific type of microRNAs (Dicer1-dependent) and their precursors (megakaryocytes) modulate the expression of target mRNAs important for cellular function. Continue reading → The Power of mRNA in Anucleate Platelets

(Pro)Renin Receptor: A Novel Target for Hypertension, Kidney Disease, and Metabolic Syndrome

The enzyme renin plays a role in the development of hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease. Studies in mice and rats unexpectedly uncovered other biological activities of the receptor for renin and its precursor, (pro)renin receptor (PRR). University of Utah Health researcher Tianxin Yang, MD, PhD, and colleagues have made a series of new discoveries about the function of PRR. They demonstrated that PRR activation stimulates sodium and water retention by the kidney, causing hypertension; over-activation of PRR also causes kidney damage. Targeting this pathway with a compound that blocks PRR is highly effective in treating hypertension and chronic kidney disease in rodents. Continue reading → (Pro)Renin Receptor: A Novel Target for Hypertension, Kidney Disease, and Metabolic Syndrome

Blood Pressure Treatment Target

Researchers have long debated the optimal blood pressure for people older than age 50, especially in older adults who might not tolerate lower blood pressure. Alfred Cheung, MD, and colleagues at University of Utah Health led one of five national Clinical Center Networks to design and conduct the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT). Continue reading → Blood Pressure Treatment Target

Genetic Risk for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by excessive androgen hormone, irregular menstrual cycles, and polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. Affected women also frequently experience metabolic disturbances, including obesity, and face increased risk for type 2 diabetes. University of Utah Health investigator Corrine Welt, MD, and collaborators performed an international meta-analysis of whole genome association studies combining over 10 million genetic markers in more than 10,000 European women with PCOS and 100,000 controls. Continue reading → Genetic Risk for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome