Submission Date

7-20-2017

Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access

Department

Biology

Faculty Mentor

Beth Bailey

Student Contributor

R. Colin McNamara

Comments

Presented during the 19th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 21, 2017 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

The human heart undergoes morphological and physiological changes throughout our lifetime. Enlargement of the heart is called hypertrophy and can occur in both a physiological and pathological sense. Physiological hypertrophy is adaptive and occurs classically in athletes; hearts of endurance athletes are larger and stronger to handle the increased blood volume and pressure loads. Pathological hypertrophy is maladaptive and occurs in patients with hypertension, the heart increases in size to compensate for increased blood volume and pressure. During pregnancy the female heart enlarges in order to adapt to the increased blood volume from the growing fetus. These changes are adaptive in most women but, a small subset of women develop pathological peripartum cardiomyopathy after delivery. Dr. Bailey’s lab has found subtle differences in the contractile function of cardiac myocytes in late pregnant mice compared to control mice. Specifically, the contractions in late pregnant mice are prolonged and the cardiac myocytes increase in size. It was also seen that the contractile changes that were seen after one pregnancy were exacerbated after 3 pregnancies, with the dysfunction thought to be additive with multiple pregnancies. The goal of this study is to characterize the morphology and contractile function of cardiac myocytes after a second pregnancy and determine the magnitude of stress that multiple pregnancies put on the cardiovascular system.

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