Dr Thamali Ayagama, a BHF-funded postdoctoral research scientist in the Herring Group, received the Physiological Reports Poster Prize at Physiology 2023, which took place this year at the Harrogate Convention Centre in North Yorkshire.
The journal Physiological Reports, a collaboration between The Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society, awards prizes to support talented early career scientists at key conferences throughout the year. Physiology 2023 is The Physiological Society's flagship event, where the latest first class physiological science is presented and recognised.
Dr Ayagama's abstract, titled 'Circulating neuropeptide-Y dynamics during exercise in heart failure', presented her collaborative research with Dr Peregrine Green, Dr Cheryl Tan, Associate Professor Adam Lewandowski, Professor Paul Leeson, and Associate Professor Neil Herring.
Herring lab research has shown that high levels of the stress hormone Neuropeptide (NPY) is linked to death following heart attacks and the subsequent weakening of the heart which can lead to heart failure. NPY does not directly alter heart rate, but it is known to influence how the heart responds to disease in the long run.
Dr Ayagma's poster presented the latest research demonstrating that patients with heart failure have elevated levels of NPY compared to normal patients, which can increase further with exercise. However, while healthy individuals have low resting levels of NPY, which can be increased a great deal during exercise, heart failure patients with high baseline levels do not seem to increase levels as much when they exercise. Experimental results show that the better an individual can increase their NPY levels on exertion, the better their heart rate recovers after exercise. Improved heart rate recovery ensures a better prognosis for mortality in both healthy and heart failure patients.