Blue blood? Assessing the mitochondrial response to hypoxia in peripheral blood mononuclear cells
Supervisor:Dr. Andrew Murray
Low blood or tissue oxygen (hypoxia) is a feature of many diseases, particularly in their most severe form, but also of healthy subjects at high altitude. Much work has focussed on changes in oxygen delivery in hypoxia, e.g. ventilatory, cardiovascular and erythropoietin responses, but it is increasingly accepted that changes in oxygen utilisation at the tissue/mitochondrial level play a key role. Assessment of tissue mitochondrial function in cells and animal models is straightforward, but in humans is limited to muscle biopsies or blood cells. Muscle biopsies are invasive and alternatives would be desirable. The aim of this project is to validate the use of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) for the assessment of mitochondrial function in large cohorts of human subjects. We will use an animal model of hypoxia, to investigate the timecourse of changes in mitochondrial function in PBMCs against that in other tissues.
We have active (funded) collaborations with GSK, AstraZeneca, MedImmune and GUBRA, looking at mitochondrial function in a number of settings. All students in the lab are given the opportunity to undertake an industry placement during their studies.