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Researcher to provide new insight for treating vascular disease
Date:10/27/2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. The blood circulates through the body in an intricate process that researchers are only beginning to understand. Now, University of Missouri researcher Steven Segal has received the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's prestigious Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award for his work in defining the signaling processes that control blood flow in the smallest, microscopic blood vessels, the microcirculation. Understanding these events could help researchers find novel approaches to fighting vascular disease associated with hypertension and diabetes and help to combat the adverse effects of aging on physical performance.

"Blood vessels are composed of individual cells arranged to form tubes that direct blood flow in tissues and organs. Within the microcirculation, the control of blood flow requires vascular cells to synchronize their activity in order for blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow or to dilate and increase blood flow," said Segal, professor in the Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology in the School of Medicine and Investigator in the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. "The goal of my research is to determine how cells of the microcirculation actually coordinate their activity to control vessel diameter in order to regulate blood flow. Gaining new insight into these processes will facilitate the development of new strategies for treating vascular diseases and promoting an active lifestyle."

The microvessels that control blood flow are constantly dilating and constricting as they regulate their diameter according to the metabolic needs of the tissues they supply. As illustrated in the accompanying figure, these vessels are lined by a continuous layer of endothelial cells which, in turn, are surrounded by smooth muscle cells that can relax (causing "vasodilation") or contract (causing "vasoconstriction").

In response to physical activity, smooth muscle and e
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Contact: Kelsey Jackson
JacksonKN@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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