Department of Biological Sciences

Ilka Pinz Ph.D.

Libra Scholar
Ilka Pinz

Office Location

106A Science

Phone

207.780.4464

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Physiology and Biochemistry, Alfred Wegener Institute, University of Bremen, Germany, 2000
  • M.S., Biology, Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, 1996
  • B.S., Biology, Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, 1992

Research Interests

Lipotoxic cardiomyopathy: My research focuses on mechanisms leading to lipotoxic cardiomyopathy. With the growing incidence of obesity, and the burden it puts on the health care system, we must understand the mechanisms by which certain fatty acids and their metabolites change signaling pathways in cardiac muscle cells that cause a decline in contractile performance. In particular, we focus on highly organized membrane micro-domains called caveolae, which are small flask-like membrane invaginations lined by caveolin proteins. In the heart caveolin-1 and -3 are expressed and are responsible for maintaining caveolae structure. Using different high fat diets, we investigate how a change in membrane lipid composition affects caveolin proteins and consequences for cardiac contractile performance. We utilize in vivo imaging techniques such as echocardiography and magnetic resonance imaging to measure cardiac contractile performance in the live mouse. To determine ex vivo contractile performance we use the Langendorff mode. We determined that the loss of cardiac caveolin-3 by high fat feeding is part of the mechanism for lipid-induced cardiac contractile dysfunction.

Signaling and caveolin: A separate part of our work focuses on signaling proteins and receptors that bind to the caveolin scaffolding domain (CSD domain) in caveolin-3, which includes the insulin receptor and endothelial nitric oxides synthase (eNOS). For both proteins we can demonstrate that  activity and localization depend on the presence of caveolin-3 at the plasma membrane. This work has implications for vascular disease and for diabetes, two of the most common co-morbidities of obesity.

Recent Publications

Favreau-Lessard AJ, Blaszyk H, Jones MA, Douglas B. Sawyer DB, Pinz IM. 2019. Systemic and cardiac susceptibility of immune compromised mice to doxorubicin. Cardio-Oncology 5:2. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40959-019-0037-6

Boucher JM, Robich M, Scott S, Yang X, Ryzhova L, Turner JE, Pinz IM, Liaw L. 2018.  Rab27a Regulates Human Perivascular Adipose Progenitor Cell Differentiation. Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10557-018-6813-y

Pinz IM. 2017. Preclinical Cardiovascular Imaging. In: Encyclopedia of Cardiovascular Research and Medicine. Elsevier  

Talukder MAH, Preda M, Rhyzova L, Prudovsky I, Pinz IM. 2016. Heterozygous caveolin-3 mice show increased susceptibility to palmitate-induced insulin resistance. Physiological Reports e12736. doi: 10.14814/phy2.12736.