Abnormal metabolism in type 2 diabetes, and how this affects the heart
The study of metabolism has a strong historical basis in Oxford, and in the last 20 years research in this field has undergone a renaissance. Abnormalities in cardiac metabolism have been identified in many pathologies, and have been shown to directly impair the function of the heart, accelerate disease progression and to predict mortality. Given the pivotal role of metabolism in keeping the heart contracting, a greater understanding of what metabolism can do, how this is modified in disease and whether this information can be used to develop new treatments may lead to new therapies for the heart.
Type 2 diabetes is a systemic disease of abnormal metabolism, yet the primary cause of mortality in type 2 diabetes is cardiovascular disease. Important questions remain as to what abnormal cardiac metabolism is doing to the heart in diabetes, and how it is having its effect. We are studying metabolism from 2 angles in diabetes: as a source of energy to power the heart, but also as signalling molecules that can regulate transcription, post-translational modification, and enzyme activity. Our aim is to understand how abnormal metabolism and metabolite levels are exerting their effect on the heart in diabetes. We are particularly interested in the roles played by fats and lipids within the heart, and how these may be driving the metabolic and contractile dysfunction in diabetes. Given the increasing prevalence of diabetes and metabolic syndrome in society, a greater understanding of how diabetes specifically affects the heart, and whether this can be rectified by therapy are important questions.
Our research can be divided into four key questions:
1. How is cardiac metabolism modified in type 2 diabetes?
2. What is this abnormal metabolism doing to the heart – are metabolites acting as signalling molecules?
3. What are the mechanisms regulating changes in cardiac metabolism?
4. Can these mechanisms be targeted by new pharmacological therapies to treat the heart?
Join the Heather Group
Do you love metabolism too? We are keen to recruit talented DPhil students to join our group. Please send us an email if you are interested in exploring opportunities with the Heather group.
We welcome applications from talented potential postdoctoral researchers. Vacancies are advertised on the Oxford University and DPAG Vacancies web pages, or we encourage potential applicants to secure fellowship funding.
29 July 2021
New research from the Heather Group has shown that in type 2 diabetes an overload of lipids reduces the heart’s ability to generate energy during a heart attack, decreasing chances of recovery.
4 September 2020
A new paper from the Heather and Tyler groups has uncovered the mechanism responsible for reduced energy in the hearts of patients with type 2 diabetes and revealed a new therapeutic strategy to reverse the energy deficit.
17 October 2019
Congratulations are in order to Matthew Kerr, Andia Redpath, Susann Bruche, KC Park and Minahil Mujahid for their achievements at this major showcase for Oxford's British Heart Foundation funded Researchers.