Dr Marie-Louise Ward

PhD

Research | Current

Cytoplasmic calcium (Ca2+) concentration underlies many important physiological activities, including contractility in cardiac muscle. My research area of interest is in the regulation of intracellular Ca2+ in cardiac muscle, and the influence of other intracellular ions (such as Na+ and H+) on its regulation. There is much evidence to indicate that abnormal Ca2+ handling underlies many cardiomyopathies.

In my laboratory spectrofluorometric techniques are used to record rapid changes in intracellular ions associated with the regulation of excitation-contraction coupling in isolated cardiac trabeculae. Trabeculae are small (typically 100-200 µm in diameter, and ~2 mm long), cylindrically shaped muscles dissected from within the ventricles of the heart. They are multicellular preparations with the myocytes aligned along the longitudinal axis. This property makes them ideal for mechanical studies. They can be attached to a force transducer, mounted in a muscle chamber on the stage of an inverted microscope, and stimulated electrically to contract. Their small cross-sectional area minimises diffusion distances and allows them to be kept alive for many hours by superfusing with oxygenated physiological solution. It is easy also to monitor the muscle's response to different pharmacological agents by addition of these to the superfusate. Most importantly, trabeculae can be loaded with fluorescent indicators, so that simultaneous measurement of isometric force and intracellular ions can be made.

Current projects

  • Ca2+ handling in pulmonary hypertension and RV hypertrophy
  • Mitochondrial energy supply in failing hearts
  • Regulation of cardiac contractility
  • Stretch and the Heart
  • How do Glucose and Copper Conspire to Make Hearts Fail?
  • The Interaction Between Action Potential Changes and Defects in EC Coupling
  • Diabetic heart disease

Research interests

  • Cardiac muscle function
  • Cardiac stretch
  • Hypertensive heart failure
  • Diabetic cardiomyopathy
  • Atrial fibrillation

Teaching | Current

MEDSCI 205 Organ Systems Physiology

PHARMACY 205 Physiology for Pharmacy, Lecture course coordinator

MEDSCI 309 Biophysics of Nerve & Muscle, Course Director

MEDSCI 305 Systematic Pharmacology

MBCHB 221. Lecturer in Musculoskeletal and Cardiovascular courses.

MEDSCI 733. Lecturer in Live Cell Imaging

Postgraduate supervision

Year

Student Name

Programme

Role

2014

Anderson, Alex

PhD

Co-supervisor

2014

Hou, Yufeng

PhD

Co-supervisor

2014

Kanabar, Paulin

Summer Research

Primary supervisor

2014

Kaur, Sarbjot

PhD

Primary supervisor

2014

Munro, Michelle

PhD

Co-supervisor

2014

Power, Amelia

PhD

Primary supervisor

2014

Shen, Xin

PhD

Primary supervisor

2014

Walsh, Jordan

Summer Research

Primary supervisor

 

Responsibilities

  • PI of Muscle Cell Function Research Group
  • Senior Lecturer in Physiology

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Treasurer Physiological Society of NZ

Vice Chair, Medical Sciences Congress NZ

Council Member Australasian Section International Society for Heart Research

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Shen, X., Kaur, S., Power, A., Williams, L. Z. J., & Ward, M.-L. (2016). Positive Inotropic Effect of Prostaglandin F2α in Rat Ventricular Trabeculae. Journal of cardiovascular pharmacology, 68 (1), 81-88. 10.1097/fjc.0000000000000392
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sarbjot Kaur
  • Ward, M. L., Shen, X., & Greenwood, D. R. (2014). Use of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to detect substances of nanomolar concentration in the coronary effluent of isolated perfused hearts. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 115 (2-3), 270-278. 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2014.07.005
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/26133
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Greenwood
  • Shen, X., Cannell, M. B., & Ward, M. L. (2013). Effect of SR load and pH regulatory mechanisms on stretch-dependent Ca(2+) entry during the slow force response. Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, 63, 37-46. 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2013.07.008
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/26130
  • Zhang, L., Cannell, M. B., Phillips, A. R. J., Cooper, G. J. S., & Ward, M.-L. (2008). Altered calcium homeostasis does not explain the contractile deficit of diabetic cardiomyopathy. DIABETES, 57 (8), 2158-2166. 10.2337/db08-0140
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/14346
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anthony Phillips, Linda Zhang
  • Ward, M.-L., Williams, I. A., Chu, Y., Cooper, P. J., Ju, Y.-K., & Allen, D. G. (2008). Stretch-activated channels in the heart: Contributions to length-dependence and to cardiomyopathy. PROGRESS IN BIOPHYSICS & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, 97 (2-3), 232-249. 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2008.02.009
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/14343
  • Ward, M. L., Pope, A. J., Loiselle, D. S., & Cannell, M. B. (2003). Reduced contraction strength with increased intracellular [Ca2+] in left ventricular trabeculae from failing rat hearts. JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY-LONDON, 546 (2), 537-550. 10.1113/jphysiol.2002.029132
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/7814
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Denis Loiselle

Identifiers

Contact details

Primary location

M&HS BUILDING 503 - Bldg 503
Level 4, Room 401D
85 PARK RD
GRAFTON
AUCKLAND 1023
New Zealand

Web links