Sadaf Afreen - Presenter Profile

Can I Make My Heart young?

In this article, Sadaf Afreen presents her research about rejuvinating cardiovascular tissue.

About My Research

Age related diseases including heart disease are the most obvious cause of death in human beings. Small vessels that supply blood to the heart, have an inner layer of cells, endothelial cells lining these vessels. These have the ability to repair and regenerate, until a time when they age, become senescent and stop functioning normally. The accumulation of these senescent endothelial cells in blood vessels is believed to play a role in development of heart disease. Notably, there are number of factors in addition to age which stress these cells and make them age prematurely.

Senescence can negatively affect the tissue regenerative potential through inhibition of cell proliferation or through effects on neighbouring cells via the release of a combination of cellular proteins known as the ‘senescence associated secretory phenotype’(SASP). A better understanding of the role of these senescent cells in tissue microenvironment as well as identification of the components of SASP will give an insight of the impact of senescent endothelial cells in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Cells 1Cells 2

Adhesion of inflammatory cells (green dots) to young endothelial cells (left) is increased in the aged endothelial cells (right) showing one way in which the aged cells play a role in causing inflammation of blood vessels.

My Festival Presentation

In my laboratory experiments, when secreted proteins from senescent cells were transferred to young endothelial cells, inhibition of cell growth was observed. In order to identify which proteins might be responsible for this transferrable effect on cell growth, I measured which proteins were produced by senescent endothelial cells using several techniques. Proteins which were present at higher levels in senescent versus young cells were identified as potential biomarkers of cardiovascular ageing.

My Research Findings

Identifying biomarker(s) for senescence will enable us to measure these proteins in human blood with a view to identifying individuals at risk of age-related heart disease and possibly to developing therapies in order to reverse or eradicate the senescent cells selectively in order to rejuvenate blood vessels.

About Sadaf Afreen

Sadaf AfreenSadaf Afreen is a research student working towards completion of her doctoral degree in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences. Sadaf is supervised by Dr Karl Herbert.

Sadaf will present her work at the Festival of Postgraduate Research 6 July 2015 - see Sadaf's Festival poster.

The Festival is open to all members of the University community and the public - book your place here.

Contact Sadaf

Department of Cardiovascular Sciences

University of Leicester

University Road



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