The monthly meetings for the RTRN Clusters have adopted a new format. In addition to the discussions pertaining to the specific thematic topics and activities toward proposal development, the Clusters meetings provide a platform for researchers to present their research findings and outcomes.

At the November 2013 Obesity Cluster call, Dr. Sylvette Ayala-Peña, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Puerto Rico, gave a webinar entitled, “Mitochondria, Oxidative Stress and Prediabetes.”

Her research focuses on studying if pharmacological inhibition of the angiotensin II receptor 1 reverses high glucose levels by decreasing oxidative stress and by preventing mitochondrial damage and mitochondrial dysfunction. Prediabetes, an important age-related risk factor for the development of insulin resistance (IR) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) is an asymptomatic state characterized by impaired glucose levels and/or abnormal glucose tolerance. The proposed study will determine if a drug commonly used to treat hypertension protects against prediabetes possibly by reducing the levels of oxidative stress in the mitochondria. Completion of the proposed study may accelerate the development of an intervention for reversing T2D.

Dr. Ayala-Peña had previously submitted a small grant proposal on this topic and plans to revise and resubmit this proposal for the current funding cycle. Her mentors include Dr. León Ferder from the Ponce School of Medicine and Mayer B. Davidson, MD from Charles R. Drew University. Other collaborators include: Sabzali Javadov, M.D., Ph.D., UPR-MSC; Yamil Gerena, Ph.D., UPR-MSC; John Basgen, BA, Charles Drew University and Saroja Voruganti, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Ayala-Pena has co-authored a number of published manuscripts in this area, including:

  • Ayala-Peña, Sylvette. Role of Oxidative DNA Damage in Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Huntington’s Disease Pathogenesis. Free Radical Biology and Medicine 62:102–110. 2013. PMID: 23602907
  • Almas Siddiqui, Sulay Rivera-Sánchez, María del R. Castro, Karina Acevedo-Torres, Anand Rane, Carlos A. Torres-Ramos, David G. Nicholls, Julie K. Andersen and Sylvette Ayala-Torres. 2012. Mitochondrial DNA damage is associated with reduced mitochondrial bioenergetics in Huntington’s disease. Free Radical Biology and Medicine Oct 1. 53 (2012) 1478–1488. PMID: 227095852.
  • Xun, Z, Sulay Rivera-Sanchez, Ayala-Peña, S, Lim, J, Budworth, H, Skoda, EM, Robbins, PD, Niedernhofer, LJ, Wipf, P and McMurray, CT. Targeting of XJB-5-131 to Mitochondria Suppresses Oxidative DNA Damage and Motor Decline in a Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease. Cell Reports 2012, Oct 30. PMID:23122961
  • Castro, María del R., Suarez, Edu, Kraiselburd, Edmundo, Isidro, Angel, Paz, José, Ferder, León and Ayala-Torres, Sylvette. Aging increases mitochondrial DNA damage and oxidative stress in liver of rhesus monkeys. Experimental Gerontology 47:29-37. 2012. PMID: 22027539
  • Ayala-Peña, S and Torres-Ramos, CA. Oxidative stress contributes to liver pathology during aging. In: Oxidative Stress and Dietary Antioxidants. Edited by Prof. Victor R. Preedy. Elsevier. In Press.
  • Sulay Rivera-Sánchez, Cynthia T. McMurray, and Sylvette Ayala-Peña. Mitochondrial dysfunction in brain and muscle pathology of Huntington’s disease. Systems Biology of Free Radicals and Antioxidants. In Press

The RTRN community is encouraged to participate in one or more of the RTRN Research Clusters, and to take part in upcoming researcher presentations.

  • RTRN Cardiovascular and Related Diseases Cluster: Presentation by Dr. Todd Seto, “Development of a culturally appropriate cardiovascular intervention: The HELA Study”; Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 3:00pm Eastern