Research in Professor Matthew Kay’s laboratory is focused on studying cardiac electrical activity and mitochondrial function during normal and disease conditions. Work is primarily focused on understanding how hypoxia, ischemia, and heart failure alter myocardial energy supply and demand and identifying how that may motivate deadly arrhythmias. Professor Kay and his research team have specific expertise in high-speed optical assessments of cardiac physiology, including optical mapping and absorbance spectroscopy, and have developed powerful algorithms to analyze time varying optical signals.
Recent projects address hypotheses related to metabolism and electrophysiology during hypoxia, ischemia, and heart failure using fluorescence imaging of mitochondrial NADH, sarcolemma membrane potential, intracellular calcium, and, recently, myocardial absorbance assessments of mitochondrial ETC chromophore redox state. Results from bi-ventricular working rabbit hearts have revealed a critical balance between oxygen supply and demand during high work load, particularly when capillary oxygen reserve is absent. Other projects investigate mitochondrial damage and ROS production during ischemia/reperfusion injury and the toxic effects of plasticizers on cardiac electrical activity and metabolism. Optogenetic approaches are used to selectively modulate the activity of cardiac autonomic nerves to study how sympathetic and parasympathetic tone influences electromechanical function. Recent work with GWU neuroscientist David Mendelowitz, PhD is focused on examining how chronic selective activation of hypothalamic oxytocin neurons improves cardiac function and favorably alters indices of cardiac ischemia and damage that occurs in heart failure animals.
The Kay Lab at The George Washington University performs general methods in experimental cardiovascular and cardiac research that include ex-vivo Langendorff and working heart perfusion (mice, rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits), in-vivo echocardiography of small animals, trans-ascending aortic constriction model of heart failure, ECG acquisition and signal analysis, optical mapping of isolated perfused hearts, dose-response drug studies using isolated hearts, neurocardiac optogenetics, glass micropipette electrode measurements of cardiac action potentials, perflourocarbon emulsion production for organ perfusion, CUBIC clearing of tissue, 2D and 3D confocal microscopy, and general biochemical assessments that include western blotting, immunohistochemistry, and general absorbance assays.
Glass micropipette electrode measurements of cardiac action potentials in fully contracting hearts.
ECG acquisition and signal analysis for both in vivo measurements and isolated perfused hearts.
Transmembrane voltage mapping of rabbit, guinea pig, rat, and mouse isolated perfused hearts.
Trans-ascending aortic constriction model of heart failure
Dose-response drug studies using isolated hearts
Langendorff (rabbit, guinea pig, rat, mouse) and working heart (rabbit, rat) preparations.
Production of high oxygen carrying perfluorocarbon (PFC) solution.
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