Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

Dr. Conrad L Epting, Primary Investigator
Research Project: Unraveling Pediatric Heart Failure and the Stem Cell Compartment
Amount funded: $22,000

Children born with only one ventricle, the main pumping chamber, face many challenges, including multiple surgeries, lifelong medication, abnormal heart rhythms, and progressive heart failure. Collectively these contribute to a decreased quality of life and premature death or need for heart transplant, the risk of which continues to increase with age. Despite remarkable advances in surgical and supportive care in recent decades, the cellular basis of premature single ventricular heart failure remains poorly understood.

Our team at Lurie Children's in Chicago is well positioned to examine these questions, with a busy heart failure and transplant program, and an established system to collect and study heart tissues. Our laboratory seeks to understand common pathways underlying advanced heart failure, comparing patients with one and two ventricles who are being transplanted. Although the heart contains stem cells, which work throughout life to slowly regenerate the heart, these cells are unable to prevent eventual heart failure. In adults the stem cells are "exhausted" in late heart failure, however, our preliminary data in children suggests that these cells are more robust and activated. This proposal will examine the ventricles to learn about key differences in late heart failure, and the behavior of the stem cells taken from patients undergoing transplant. We hope our ļ¬ndings will help identify new approaches to treatment that delay the onset of heart failure, providing these children and young adults with longer, more productive lives.