Robert Raffai, Ph.D. Awarded R01 Grant to Study Hyperglycemia and MicroRNA Dysregulation of Inflammation in Atherosclerosis
The NIH has awarded Robert Raffai, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery and Director of the Atherosclerosis Research Lab, a 4-year R01 grant to study Hyperglycemia and MicroRNA Dysregulation of Inflammation in Atherosclerosis. Dr. Raffai has described the purpose of the research as follows:
This project will test our hypothesis that hyperglycemia accelerates atherosclerosis in diabetic mice by dysregulating microRNA processing in immune cells as a consequence of increased cellular oxidative stress. It will also test whether this effect can be overcome by enhancing anti-oxidant capacity in immune cells to restore normal microRNA-regulated biological function and whether a metabolic memory of hyperglycemia remains imprinted in the hematopoietic system to maintain inflammation and accelerated atherosclerosis even after blood glucose control.
About the Atherosclerosis Research Lab
Atherosclerosis, the clogging of arteries by deposits of fat and cholesterol, is a major cause of cardiovascular disease especially among individuals with diabetes. Although reducing the rate of atherosclerosis progression is desirable and has been achieved clinically by lipid lowering medication, such therapies are far less effective among diabetic individuals leaving them at high risk of cardiovascular complications.
An important topic of our research program is to explore the interplay between plasma lipoprotein metabolism and microRNA-controlled inflammation in atherosclerosis initiation and regression through studies of mouse models developed in our laboratory. We also explore how hyperglycemia impacts on dysregulating microRNA biogenesis in immune cells as a cause enhanced inflammation and atherosclerosis in diabetic mice.
As a member of the Extracellular RNA (exRNA) Consortium at the NIH Common Fund, our laboratory collaborates with numerous colleagues at UCSF and other academic institutions nationwide to explore the relevance of extracellular RNA in the form of exosomes and plasma lipoproteins as a effectors of atherosclerosis progression and regression. Our goal is to develop novel treatment for atherosclerosis and its cardiovascular complication based on the delivery of exRNA, including in the form of cell-derived Exosomes.