Heidi Kluess Doing Research in Canada

May 19, 2015


Leslie Neidert
Leslie Neidert

Heidi Kluess and doctoral student doing research in Canada through Visiting University Scholar Program

Dr. Heidi Kluess, Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology, and her doctoral student, Leslie Neidert, are visiting Western University in Ontario, Canada for three weeks in May to study neuropeptide Y with Dr. Dwayne N. Jackson. Dr. Kluess was named a Western Fellow and received a small Canadian federal grant to pay for travel and research costs for international collaboration.

The purpose of the program is to encourage distinguished faculty from outside Canada to visit Western University and engage in research, teaching, or seminars at the University and share their experiences with colleagues at their home institutions.

“Our goal is to develop pilot data for an international grant,” said Kluess. “Dr. Jackson uses a special technique called intravital microscopy to look at the entire vascular network at the same time and examine blood flow to the muscle. What’s unique is that the muscle and vascular network are still connected to the animal so we can really see what neuropeptide Y is doing.”

Kluess hopes to take this newly learned technique back to Auburn.

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a peptide that plays an important role in blood flow regulation during exercise. Recently, the Kluess lab has shown that dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV), the major modulator of neuropeptide Y (NPY), can be released from the exercising muscle or via activation of amino acid transporters in the muscle. This suggests that during muscle contraction, the muscle itself could release DPP-IV, further limiting vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the muscle.

Little is known about the role of NPY and DPP-IV in this process and their effect on muscle blood flow. Interestingly, DPP-IV inhibitors are becoming a common and effective treatment for diabetes. Kluess hypothesizes that DPP-IV may significantly alter blood flow regulation. This research will investigate the issue.

The experiment will consist of three parts utilizing animal models. The first involves a series of muscle contractions and recording changes in diameter in the blood vessel and measuring NPY and DPP-IV activity. A DPP-IV antagonist will then be introduced and muscle contractions stimulated. They will then analyze samples from the arterioles and muscle tissue for DPP-IV protein and activity.

In the second part, the researchers will follow the same protocol as the first, except they will introduce a different antagonist after the first series of contractions. For the third part, another antagonist will be placed in the animals’ drinking water for two weeks. Kluess and her colleagues will measure water intake and then perform the experiments from part one.