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Siobhan Craige Lab

Craige Lab group

Craige Lab Research

The goal of our laboratory is to elucidate the mechanisms by which diet and exercise influence vascular health and the prevention of cardiometabolic diseases. We focus on signaling pathways in endothelial cells, the monolayer of cells that line the lumen of the vasculature. The endothelium acts as the interface between the systemic circulation and individual organ systems, making this specialized cell layer ideally poised to sense and respond to stressors. While diet and exercise are known to be important for the prevention of cardiometabolic diseases, the molecular signaling underpinning their benefits are only beginning to come to light. Our laboratory has identified a critical role for reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling in the adaptive responses to diet and exercise. Understanding these molecular pathways will pave the way for targeted therapies in cardiometabolic disease.

Current Projects:

  • Exercise stimulates inter tissue cross-talk:
    In response to stress, multiple tissues and cell types need to talk to each other to coordinate responses. With an acute bout of exercise, immediate metabolic changes occur in the skeletal muscle. A current focus of our laboratory is the signaling between the endothelium and the skeletal muscle in response to acute exercise. The skeletal muscle microvasculature is responsible for maintaining muscle health, and microvasculature loss (rarefaction) precedes muscle atrophy, a significant co-morbidity of multiple cardiometabolic diseases. We have found that the microvascular endothelium of the skeletal muscle is important for initiating signaling that alters skeletal muscle metabolism. This suggests significant inter-tissue cross-talk between the vasculature and skeletal muscle cells; elucidating the molecular mechanisms of this cross-talk is critical for developing strategies to mitigate diseases such as peripheral artery disease, diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases.

  • Exercise in liver disease:
    Regular exercise is one of the most powerful tools to prevent and reverse Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). NAFLD which is characterized by excessive fat deposition in the liver, affects 20-30 percent of adults in the US and is the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. NAFLD often leads to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which can result in liver cirrhosis or cancer and is predicted to be the leading cause for liver transplantation by 2030. We are currently investigating liver ROS signaling and the mitigation of liver disease with exercise. Knowledge about the protective mechanisms activated by exercise will be key in developing strategies that prevent not only NAFLD, but multiple other chronic cardiometabolic diseases.

    Myriam Aouadi Group - Karolinska Institute
    Myriam Aouadi CV
in the lab

The Craige Lab is looking for graduate and undergraduate students. If you are interested in applying, please contact Siobhan Craige at craigesm@vt.edu.