Cardiovascular immunology and multi-morbidities

Patients with cardiovascular disease also commonly present with one or more other chronic conditions, known as multi-morbidities. Our researchers are investigating the links between inflammation and these conditions.

Heart failure is highly prevalent in people over 60, the fastest-growing age group worldwide. However, the global epidemic in obesity and type 2 diabetes is changing the demographics who are affected by cardiovascular disease. Multi-morbidities in people with cardiovascular disease make approaches to treatment more complicated and impact on heart failure outcomes.

Inflammation is a common factor in these chronic conditions, yet its role in multi-morbidities and cardiovascular disease is relatively unexplored. A common pathogenic link between chronic diseases is inflammation with patients exhibiting a ‘low-grade pro-inflammatory state’.

It has been known for many years that the innate immune response is linked to the progression of heart failure, with elevated levels of cytokines detected in heart failure patients. However, the inflammatory signalling pathways and contribution to disease trajectory are not fully understood.

Obesity is a chronic inflammatory condition and is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, as well as being a common precursor to type 2 diabetes. It is associated with the development of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

Although it is estimated that up to half of all heart failure cases are now due to HPpEF, much less is known about this condition compared to heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), with few treatment options available.

We have ongoing research projects investigating the intersection between inflammation, obesity and heart failure. Specifically, we are looking at the characterisation of structural remodelling of the myocardium and development of mitochondrial dysfunction, and hypertension and the role of perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT).

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Professor Ashraf Kitmitto

Professor Xin Wang (Deputy Lead)

Dr Sophie Saxton (Deputy Lead)

Principal investigators