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    Jennifer Strande, MD, PhD researches the role of thrombin and its receptors in the inflammation and fibrosis that occurs in the heart after ischemic events

    Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Wisconsin, accounting for more than 16,000 deaths annually, or 35 percent of all deaths in the state. The considerable disability and mortality of the heart disease puts emotional and financial stress on individuals and their families. Rates of obesity, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia are on the rise in Wisconsin and these cardiovascular risks are affecting Wisconsin residents at an even younger age. While reducing these risks using preventive strategies is an important strategy to combat heart disease, we still need new treatment strategies for prevention of the adverse effects of heart disease.

    The clotting pathway culminates in the formation of thrombin, which is best known for acting on its cellular receptors to cause platelet aggregation and thrombosis. One of the primary treatments strategies for patients with coronary artery disease is to acutely stop this process, in the condition of acute myocardial infarction, or to chronically inhibit this process to prevent recurrent heart attacks.

    Thrombin also acts through its receptors on other cell types and organs such as liver, lung and kidney to cause other effects such as inflammation and fibrosis. Jennifer Strande, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and her laboratory are studying the role of thrombin and its receptors in the inflammation and fibrosis that occurs in the heart after ischemic events. Inflammation and fibrosis contribute to left ventricular remodeling and eventually cardiomyopathy.

    Dr. Strande has shown that in rats treated with either direct thrombin inhibitors or thrombin receptor antagonist, the heart is protected against ischemia by protecting it from the damaging effects of free radicals and inflammation. Furthermore, she has shown that in long term studies, thrombin receptor antagonist also limits cardiac fibrosis and protects the heart from adverse remodeling after myocardial infarction.

    As a fellowship-trained cardiologist, Dr. Strande brings a unique perspective and skillset to the Medical College of Wisconsin. As a physician, she sees first-hand how heart damage resulting from heart attacks affects the mental and physical well-being of patients and their families. By recognizing the gaps medical therapy for people affected by heart attacks and heart failure, she can identify new targets for potential therapies. She also has the basic research training to perform the necessary basic and translations research studies needed to advance these new potential therapies which may have a major impact on keeping patients with cardiovascular disease feeling better.

    Article written by Jennifer Strande, MD, PhD, Division of Cardiology