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Cell-Cell Communication

The mammalian heart is an organ comprising of heterogeneous cell types. In this project, we are exploring mechanisms by which diverse cellular populations and sub-populations communicate to maintain cardiac health and homeostasis, and how perturbed coordination, in response to stress or injury, mediates disease. This investigation has a particular focus on extracellular matrix modification, and is expanded to encompass the role of gut microbiome as a key metabolic and immunological regulator of disease.

We are adopting approaches, including single-cell RNA sequencing, gut bacterial metagenomics, in addition to extensive in vitro mouse/human primary cell culture and in vivo genetic, diet and stress hormone/surgical rodent models.


Expression profile of chondroitin sulfate–rich proteoglycan–related genes in primary human cardiac cells and THP-1–derived macrophages (Mφs) under different culture conditions. Zhao et al, 2018.

Through a greater understanding of cell-cell communication and microbiome interplay, we aim to uncover and validate new therapeutic intervention strategies to prevent, and potentially reverse the course of cardiovascular disease for patients.

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