Professor Jonathan Jaggar of UT Health Science Center Receives $95,931 Grant Supplement for Blood Pressure Research

Dr. Jaggar and His Research Team

From left: Jonathan Jaggar, PhD; Xue (Roger) Zhai, BS; Andrelina Noronha, PhD; Sarah Burris, PhD; Michael Kidd, BS; Brent Williams, BS, MS; Dennis Leo, PhD; Qian Wang, PhD; Kirk Evanson, PhD; Simon Bulley, PhD.

Jonathan Jaggar, PhD, the Maury W. Bronstein Professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a grant totaling $95,931 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The award, which will be distributed over a three-year period, is a supplement to his existing study titled, “Arterial Smooth Muscle Channels.”

The supplement will allow Dr. Jaggar and his research team to test the hypothesis that proteins, called anoctamin 1, located within the cell membrane of arterial smooth muscle cells respond to an increase in blood pressure. If research is successful, it may eventually lead to the development of novel therapies and drugs to treat high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and brain disorders that result from hypertension.

The body provides its organs with oxygen and nutrients by pumping blood through a complex and intricate network of arteries and blood vessels. To maintain blood flow from the heart to these organs, arteries are maintained in a partially constricted state.

Mechanisms that lead to this constricted state are unclear, but it is known that the smooth muscle cells in the arterial walls sense blood pressure. “We will investigate the hypothesis that high blood pressure is associated with an increase in the activation of anoctamin 1, leading to blood vessel contraction.”

Better understanding of the mechanisms of this contraction, are key in developing therapies.