Balakrishnan awarded American Heart Association fellowship

Shobana Balakrishnan, PhD, a postdoctoral trainee at the Texas A&M University College of Medicine, has recently received a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association (AHA) for her research titled “Role of inflammation and macrophage polarization in gonadal dysfunction associated with hypertension.”

This two-year grant will allow Balakrishnan, who works in the lab of Brett Mitchell, PhD, FAHA, professor in the Department of Medical Physiology at the College of Medicine, to research the underlying mechanisms behind hypertension’s effect on infertility and subfertility among men and women.

More specifically, Balakrishnan’s research will focus on the effect of hypertension (high blood pressure) on gonadal macrophages—which are white blood cells in the ovaries and testicles—and lymphatics.

Hypertension is known to be one of the contributing factors that lead to reproductive dysfunction in both men and women. The side effects that are exhibited among men with hypertension include erectile dysfunction and poor sperm quality and quantity. Similarly, women with hypertension exhibit effects such as a reduction in vaginal lubrication, orgasm and ovulation, and predisposes them to several pregnancy complications and even increases the risk of death or serious harm in both mother and baby.

Ultimately, this study will help reveal the molecular mechanism behind the reproductive dysfunction associated with hypertension and develop a new therapeutic strategy by targeting gonadal macrophages to improve reproductive health in men and women with high blood pressure.

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