PROJECT SUMMARY / ABSTRACT
The candidate recently joined the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the Cardiovascular
Performance Program (CPP), a unique group whose goals include conducting top-caliber human health and
performance research. A core mission of the CPP is to use longitudinal study design to examine cardiac
adaptations to exercise. This proposal expands this model in a novel direction to evaluate cardiac metabolism
using positron emission tomography (PET) through research collaboration with Brigham and Women's Hospital.
This proposal focuses on left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), which develops in numerous cardiac diseases,
including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), and has independent negative prognostic implications. In
contrast to pathologic LVH, exercise-induced LVH (EI-LVH) is generally considered adaptive. Differentiating
whether LVH is due to exercise or HCM is a clinical challenge with critical implications because HCM is the top
cause of sudden death in young athletes. Though myocardial metabolism appears to be impaired in forms of
pathologic LVH and is linked to the development of heart failure, comparatively little is known about myocardial
metabolism in EI- LVH. The two major goals of this research proposal are to define if myocardial metabolic
profiling will be capable of definitively differentiating EI-LVH from HCM AND, through this, to gain further
mechanistic insight into how exercise capacity and myocardial function differ so widely in these two forms of
LVH. Specifically, we hypothesize that characterization of myocardial metabolic efficiency (MME), substrate
utilization, microvascular function, and circulating corollary plasma microRNAs (miRNA) will provide
scientifically novel and clinically superior techniques for separating adaptive from pathologic LVH.
To achieve these goals, the applicant proposes a longitudinal, repeated measures study in which athletes
will be examined using cardiac PET, echocardiography, and circulating miRNA profiling before and after sport-
specific exercise training. Cardiac PET assessment will include measurement of myocardial oxidative
metabolism, metabolic efficiency, and substrate utilization, both at rest and with acute exercise provocation.
The myocardial metabolic profiles of trained athletes with LVH will be compared to that of patients with mild
HCM and healthy controls, who will be similarly studied in the absence of an exercise training intervention.
The candidate's career development plan includes advanced training in exercise physiology, cardiac
imaging, and research methodology, all under the mentorship of a unique multidisciplinary team. The science
proposed in this grant will set the stage for future studies designed to manipulate myocardial metabolism
across the spectrums of adaptive physiology and cardiovascular disease, which will form the basis of the
candidate's future R01 proposals. Over the course of the K23 award, the candidate's goal is to develop into an
independent clinical cardiovascular investigator.