14 June 2010

Run away from cardiovascular disease

A large number of studies have shown that regular physical activity is beneficial for individuals with cardiovascular disease and reduces the risk for development of life threatening conditions. It is however not clarified what cellular alterations that underlie this effect.

Professor Ylva Hellsten

Professor Ylva Hellsten

Professor Ylva Hellsten recently received a professorship in cardiovascular regulation in relation to physical activity and health at the Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences. She will give an inaugural lecture titled ‘The role of physical activity for vascular growth and function in health and cardiovascular disease'.

Results with large potential

With use of several unique techniques, ranging from cultured cells to microdialysis (thin plastic tubing containing a dialysis membrane placed in the muscle) in humans, combined with advanced molecular biology techniques, Ylva Hellsten has gained pioneering results within this area.

She has found alterations in substances essential for growth of the smallest blood vessels (capillaries) in skeletal muscle and has elucidated their role for reduction in blood pressure in response to training.

A series of interesting results have also been obtained by use of a model where the muscles are passively moved. The potential of this model for treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease is substantial.

Elegant experiments

What causes blood flow to skeletal muscle to increase with physical activity? It is still unclear what signals that lead to the increase in blood flow during exercise but research performed by Ylva Hellsten has brought us closer to an answer.

Professor Ylva Hellsten on an exercise bike in the lab.

Professor Ylva Hellsten on an exercise bike in the lab.

In elegant experiments she has inactivated a number of molecular systems in humans and found that it is a complex interplay between several specific compounds that leads to the increase in blood flow during exercise. This knowledge is fundamental and can be of substantial importance for people that can walk max. 100 metres without pain due to reduced blood flow to the legs.

The lecture, which will be held in English, is scheduled for Friday 18 June at 14:00 in St. Auditorium, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Nøre Allé 53, 2200 København N.