Vascular Physiology Laboratory

School of Kinesiology
Auburn University
Director: Dr. Heidi Kluess


Overview: The vascular system in the body is amazingly versatile.  It goes to every tissue of the body and adapts rapidly (sometimes within miliseconds!) to changes in the blood or surrounding the blood vessel itself.  The Vascular Physiology Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology has two overarching interests…

1) The role of the sympathetic nervous system is critically important for maintaining blood pressure and blood flow in the body at rest and during exercise. It exerts this control via release of chemicals, such as norepinephrine, adenosine triphosphate and neuropeptide Y. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, act on the vascular smooth muscle and cause vasoconstriction. Hypertension is blood pressure that is higher than normal. The causes of hypertension are generally unknown, but we know that hypertension becomes more prevalent as we age and is a common side effect of diabetes. A decrease in skeletal muscle blood flow is found in aging and is strongly correlated to an increase in efferent sympathetic nerve activity. Although both sexes experience these age-related changes, women experience a greater magnitude increase in sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure compared to men. The overall hypothesis of the lab is that Hypertension is, in part, caused by excess neurotransmitter release and a loss of ability to metabolize neurotransmitters.

We do this work using various technologies with isolated arterioles. Some of the technology we employ is biosensors (see photograph), fluorescent markers, ELISA, EIA, spectrophotometric assays, luminometry, and fluorometric assays.

2) The role of the red blood cells in controlling blood flow. This is a relatively new hypothesis that grew out of the observation that red blood cells release the vasodilator, adenosine triphosphate, when they release oxygen.  As Exercise Physiologists we are interested in this because skeletal muscle takes up oxygen from red blood cells and it would be a very exciting idea that the same cell that delivers the oxygen also increases blood flow to the muscle.  However, this hypothesis has not been tested with any rigor to date.  We also find this work exciting because experiments can be performed on human blood.  This work also has some important potential implications for blood storage and blood transfusions. 

We do this work using isolated human erythrocytes and measure ATP, potassium, pH, PO2, PCO2, lactate, hydrogen ions and other ions using a luminometer, a flame photometer, a tonometer and a blood gas analyzer.

Current Collaborators

Nutrition and Food Science, Auburn University

Biological Sciences, Auburn University

Kinesiology, University of Texas at Arlington

Anesthesiology, Medical College of Wisconsin

Biomedical Engineering, Wayne State University

Recent publications (full CV can be found by clicking on Dr. Kluess’ name at the top of the page):

Evanson, KW, AJ Stone, E Samraj, T Benson, R. Prisby and HA Kluess.  The influence of estradiol supplementation on neuropeptide neurotransmission in skeletal muscle arterioles of F344 rats. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 303: R651-657, 2012.

Geetha, T, C Zheng, B Unroe, M Sycheva, HA Kluess and RB Jeganathan.  Polyubiquitination of the neurotrophin receptor p75 directs neuronal cell survival.  Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 421: 286-290, 2012.

Kluess, HA, J. Stafford, K. W. Evanson, A. J. Stone, J. Worley, and R. F. Wideman.   Lung resistance arterioles respond to serotonin and ATP in broiler chickens susceptible to idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.  Poultry Science, 91: 1432-1440, 2012.

DeLorey, DS, PS Clifford, S Mittelstadt, MM Anton, HA Kluess, J Tune, U Dincer, and JB Buckwalter. The effect of aging on adrenergic and non-adrenergic receptor expression and responsiveness in canine skeletal muscle.   Journal of Applied Physiology, 112: 841-848, 2012.

Evanson, KW, AJ Stone, AL Hammond, HA Kluess.  Neuropeptide Y overflow and metabolism in skeletal muscle arterioles.  Journal of Physiology, 589: 3309-3318, 2011. 

DeLorey, DS, JB Buckwalter, S Mittelstadt, MM Anton, HA Kluess, JD Tune, and PS Clifford.  Is tonic sympathetic vasoconstriction increased in the skeletal muscle vasculature of aged canines? American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 299: 1342-1349, 2010.

Kluess, HA, AJ Stone, KW Evanson.  ATP overflow in skeletal muscle 1A arterioles.  Journal of Physiology, 588: 3089-3100, 2010. 

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2013

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