Takashi Matsui, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.H.A., an Associate Professor for the Center for Cardiovascular Research at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, has recently become one of the leaders of the Cardiovascular Cluster.

In November of 2013, Dr. Matsui presented a webinar on his research entitled, “The role of mTOR in cardioprotection” during the Cardiovascular Cluster call. Dr. Matsui is the Principal Investigator for a National Institutes of Health R01 grant investigating this topic. One of the main objectives of his research is to understand if, and how, the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation can prevent heart failure in the diabetic heart after ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Dr. Matsui is senior and corresponding author on a number of published manuscripts regarding this topic, including:

  • Aoyagi T, Kusakari Y, Xiao C-Y, Inouye BT, Takahashi M, Scherrer-Crosbie M, Rosenzweig A, Hara K, Matsui T. Cardiac mTOR protects the heart against ischemia-reperfusion injury.Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012;303(1):H75-85
  • Aoyagi T, Matsui T . Phosphoinositide-3 kinase signaling in cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. Current Pharmaceutical Design 2011;17:1818-1824
  • Aoyagi T, Matsui T . The cardiomyocyte as a source of cytokines in cardiac injury. Journal of Cell Science & Therapy 2011;S5:003 doi:10.4172/2157-7013.S5-003
  • Song X, Kusakari Y, Xiao C-Y, Kinsella SD, Rosenberg MA, Scherrer-Crosbie M, Hara K, Rosenzweig A, Matsui T. mTOR attenuates the inflammatory response in cardiomyocytes and prevents cardiac dysfunction in pathological hypertrophy. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2010;299(6):C1256-66 (see Editorial Focus in the issue, 2010;299(9):C1250-52)


The two other Cardiovascular Cluster leaders are Dr. Jorge N. Artaza from Charles R. Drew University and Dr. Georges Haddad from Howard University. Dr. Artaza’s research involves efforts to examine whether vitamin D exerts an anti-fibrotic phenotype in specific cell lines and in selected animal models of tissue degeneration. If so, supplementation with vitamin D could be used as an anti-fibrotic strategy in therapeutic treatment of chronic diseases such as renal, cardiac and lung fibrosis. Dr. Artaza also investigates the role of vitamin D in cardiac differentiation.

Dr. Haddad’s research focuses on characterizing the mechanism of action of intracellular signaling pathways involved in the development of cardiac hypertrophy and its transition into heart failure, using different models such as the alcohol cardiomyopathy and volume-overload-induced cardiac hypertrophy. Lately, Dr. Haddad’s research interest is specifically related to the oxidative and apoptotic signaling pathways mediating the detrimental cardiac effects of heavy alcohol versus those mediating the beneficial effects of low alcohol exposure on the heart.