Amy Keller, PhD, received her PhD from the City University of New York.
Dr. Keller began her Ludeman Center-funded research project in 2020 titled, “Altered PVAT Phenotype by Thermoneutrality Compromises Vasoreactivity: Does Sex Matter?” This project explores how cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a serious comorbidity in those with diabetes and how in the non-diabetes population, women are less at risk from CVD compared with men. When women are diagnosed with diabetes, they lose any protection against CVD and their risk for CVD increases. Although understanding this sex disparity is critical, the majority of animal models are male. Vascular function is central to cardiovascular health and is impaired in diabetes. Perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT), considered brown adipose tissue (BAT), surrounds the vasculature and regulates its response, in part by providing lipid fuel for mitochondrial ATP generation. Preliminary data in a rat thermoneutral model demonstrates impaired vasoreactivity, lipid mitochondrial respiration, and glucose intolerance. Dr. Keller hypothesizes that thermoneutrality instigates the PVAT phenotype to change from BAT to white adipose tissue, alters mitochondrial lipid utilization and causes vasoreactivity dysfunction. Her team’s experiments have continued to determine the role of PVAT in vasoreactivity and mitochondrial function. This research can serve the investigation of therapeutics for vascular disease associated with diabetes.
Dr. Keller continues to research how temperature-derived perivascular adipose tissue whitening impacts vessel health. She does this through manipulating paracrine factors involved with PVAT and vascular crosstalk, we can elucidate mechanisms by which the cardiovascular system is impacted in pathological conditions. The Ludeman Center has supported this work through funding, learning opportunities and mentoring advice and she says she is continuously grateful to be a part of the wonderful community here.
“I am constantly inspired by the work of Jane Reusch, MD, and Judy Regensteiner, PhD, who eloquently remind us that women have been overlooked in decades of healthcare practice and research. Every day we have the chance to serve women’s health however we can, in small or large ways. All efforts take us forward!”—Dr. Keller.