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April 2017 spotlight of the month

Camilla Ferreira Wenceslau

Research Scientist
Department of Physiology
Augusta University
1120 15th St - CA 3149
Augusta, GA 30912-3000

Principal Investigator: “Intrarenal arteries sense trauma-derived mitochondrial N-formyl peptides leading to kidney injury in SIRS”.


  • How did you become interested in research relating to Hypertension?

    The study of cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology has been my main research interest since I was an undergraduate student. During this time, I had the opportunity to be class tutor for physiology where I used to organize experimental materials.

    This great opportunity provided me with an excellent background in integrative physiology, which inspired me to pursue my Master’s degree. As a Master student at the University of Sao Paulo, I was able to conduct research with Dr. Luciana Rossoni on the mechanisms of action of ouabain in hypertension.

    As part of my Master’s degree, I also had the opportunity to go to the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) in Spain under the supervision of Dr. Mercedes Salaices. At UAM I learned how to assess the function of resistance arteries in situ, and I subsequently took this expertise back to Brazil. As result, Dr. Rossoni and I were pioneers in studying isolated resistance arteries in situ in Brazil.

    After the completion of my Master’s degree I continued my graduate education and training with Dr. Rossoni and I also had a co-mentor, Dr. Vagner R. Antunes. Drs. Rossoni and Antunes provided me with an in-depth and broad understanding of cardiovascular physiology and with extensive technical skills to assess hemodynamic and autonomic regulation in a model of DOCA-salt hypertensive rats.

    The skill set I obtained during my graduate training gave me the opportunity of a post-doctoral position in the laboratory of R. Clinton Webb at Augusta University. Clinton Webb is an internationally recognized leader in the field of hypertension. Under Clinton’ supervision I was awarded a prestigious grant from NIH, which allowed my transition from postdoctoral fellow to faculty.


  • Describe your research & the program/lab (info of your supervisor) that you are in?

    The overarching goal of my research is to understand vascular function in cardiovascular and renal diseases. Specifically, I study the mechanisms of injury-associated vascular dysfunction during hypertension, inflammation, sepsis, and chronic kidney diseases. 

    My first project is entitled: “Intrarenal arteries sense trauma-derived mitochondrial N-formyl peptides and lead to kidney injury in SIRS”. This project aims to understand the mechanisms associated with vascular damage and acute kidney injury following trauma.

    My second project is entitled: “Formyl peptide receptor blockade ameliorates intrarenal resistance artery function and decreases blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs)”. It is well established that chronic immune system activation contributes to hypertension and chronic kidney injury. Recently, we have observed that mitochondrial fragments are elevated in the circulation of SHR, and that mitochondrial N-formyl peptides infusion in rats induces systemic inflammation and vascular dysfunction via formyl peptide receptor (FPR) activation.  However, we do not know if FPRs play a role in chronic kidney injury and hypertension. The goal of this project is to understand the cellular mechanisms that lead to the damage of intrarenal arteries via FPR activation, and subsequently, kidney injury and hypertension.


  • What do you consider to be your substantial scientific contribution so far (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?

    I have been trying to answer the question: Why do almost 50% of trauma patients present sepsis-like symptoms in the absence of infection? Our publications below demonstrated strong evidence that sterile trauma induces the release of mitochondrial N-formyl peptides (F-MIT) and lead to sepsis-like symptoms (SIRS) in rats. Also, we observed that the infusion of F-MIT lead to cardiovascular collapse and leukocyte depletion abolished this response. 

    1. Wenceslau CF, McCarthy CG, Szasz T, Goulopoulou S, Webb RC. Mitochondrial N-formyl peptides induce cardiovascular collapse and sepsis-like syndrome. American Journal of Physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology. 2015; 308(7):H768-77.
    1. Wenceslau CF, McCarthy CG, Szasz T, Spitler K, Goulopoulou S, Webb RC. Mitochondrial damage-associated molecular patterns and vascular function. European Heart Journal. 2014; 35(18):1172-7.
    1. Wenceslau CF, McCarthy CG, Goulopoulou S, Szasz T, NeSmith EG, Webb RC.Mitochondrial-derived N-formyl peptides: novel links between trauma, vascular collapse and sepsis. Med Hypotheses. 2013 Oct;81(4):532-5. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.06.026.

     In addition to the contributions described above, our laboratory has also observed how mitochondrial DNA release by cell injury is associated with hypertension. In this publication we observed that in SHR, the kidney is the principal source of mitochondrial damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs).                      

    1. McCarthy CG, Wenceslau CF, Goulopoulou S, Ogbi S, Baban B, Sullivan JC, Matsumoto T, Webb RC. Circulating mitochondrial DNA and Toll-like receptor 9 are associated with vascular dysfunction in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Cardiovasc Res. 2015, in press.
    1. McCarthy CG, Goulopoulou S, Wenceslau CF, Spitler K, Matsumoto T, Webb RC. Toll-like receptors and damage-associated molecular patterns: novel links between inflammation and hypertension. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 Jan 15;306(2):H184-96. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00328.2013.

  • What is your favourite manuscript from a lab or mentor other than your own (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?

    I really like the paper from David Bohr. (Vascular Smooth Muscle: Dual Effect of Calcium. Science. 1963 Feb 15;139(3555):597-9). He was the first to demonstrate that calcium causes contraction of vascular smooth muscle. (PMID: 17788298)


  • What facilities are essential for your research?

    As Clinton says, networking is the best facility you can have to do a great research.


  • Where do your research strengths lie? Why? What are your research weaknesses? How will you improve? 

    As alluded to above, my research strengths lie in collaborating with others. Furthermore, my persistence is always an asset when figuring the best way to validly test a hypothesis and performing the required technique to make sure my results are reliable.

    Unfortunately I do not have any clinical experience. Given that my projects are very relevant to human pathologies, this could be considered a weakness.


  • Describe your unforgettable (proudest) moment in science, and the most challenging situation that you have had to overcome (lessons learnt) so far?

    My proudest moment in research was my very first award (best poster presentation). I received this when I was a Master's student on my work with ouabain-induced hypertension. This award stands out because I worked so hard to collect data to take to the Experimental Biology Societies Federation meeting.

    My most challenging situation was when I decided to leave Brazil and to become a postdoctoral fellow in the US. While staying in Brazil, close to my family and my research peers, was a consideration, my potential growth as an independent researcher outweighed this drawback.


  • At which conference did you first present? How was your experience?

    FeSBE - Experimental Biology Societies Federation. It was a great experience. I loved to meet like-minded scientists. 


  • What upcoming conferences will you be attending, and what is the furthest distance that you have traveled for a conference?

    I am planning to attend EB (Chicago) and Council on Hypertension (San Francisco), both in 2017.

    The furthest I have traveled for a conference was to Manchester, UK.


  • How did you learn about ISH/NIN and its activities?

    I first heard of ISH from members of the Clinton Webb laboratory.


  • What area(s) do you wish to specialize in the future?

    I would like to specialize in injury-associated vascular dysfunction on cardiorenal physiology.


  • Who is your role model in Science? Why?

    Clinton Webb and my previous mentor Luciana V Rossoni are my role models in Science. The funny thing is that they have completely different mentorship styles. Nonetheless, both have been extremely important for my career.


  • What are your scientific goals? Advice for talented emerging scientists?

    My long-term career goal is to establish a strong independent research program using integrative approaches to study the effects of injury-associated vascular dysfunction on cardiorenal physiology.

    My advice for talent emerging scientists is: "Never, ever give up. If you fail, try again. You are going to get it!"  

     



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