Pathological hypertrophy is a condition characterised by the abnormal enlargement of the heart. It is associated with many forms of cardiovascular diseases including ischaemic heart disease, hypertension, sudden cardiac death, heart failure and is therefore a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality in the general population. Given that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide and there is a strong association with pathological hypertrophy, it is vital to understand the underlying mechanisms of hypertrophy.
Until recently, research on cardiac hypertrophy was conducted almost exclusively on animal models. These models may not necessarily be directly translatable to humans as there are distinct inter-species differences. Furthermore, there is a push to reduce the number of animals used in scientific research, therefore new models to study cardiac hypertrophy need to be developed. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) show a lot of promise as being a new model and have already been shown to be able to model disease. I am using cardiomyocytes derived from a human induced-pluripotent (iPS) cell line to model cardiac hypertrophy. I will investigate the response of this model to β-adrenergic modulation and characterise the cAMP signalling using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). This will provide valuable evidence for the use of stem cells as a method for modelling and studying disease processes.