• Gary L. Baumbach, MD
    Research Laboratory

    Contact Information
    Phone: 319-335-8252
    1045 Medical Laboratories

    Structure and Function of Cerebral Blood Vessels

    The long-term objective of studies in our laboratory is to clarify the relationship between morphology and function of blood vessels in the brain, and to understand the influence of structural changes produced by chronic hypertension and aging on function of the vessel wall. To achieve these goals, in vivo and in vitro methods are used to analyze cerebral vascular mechanics, and morphometric methods to quantitate components of the vessel wall. Hypotheses that are currently being tested include: 1) that contraction of smooth muscle in cerebral arterioles is augmented in early hypertension, prior to the development of vascular hypertrophy, and contraction may be affected by structural alterations that develop during prolonged hypertension, 2) that effects of chronic hypertension on smooth muscle contraction may be different with respect to vessel size and brain region, and 3) that effects of aging on structure and function of blood vessels in the brain may be similar, in some respects, to effects of chronic hypertension.

    In addition to these interests, our laboratory has recently undertaken a new direction with the aim of extending studies of vascular mechanics and structure to the cellular level. Initial efforts have focused on the use of confocal microscopy and computer-assisted image analysis to examine effects of mechanical deformation on focal and near contacts (focal adhesion sites) in vascular smooth muscle in tissue culture. Focal contacts provide anchorage sites essential for the maintenance of tension within the cell, and are involved in regulation of cell morphology, proliferation, migration, differentiation and responsiveness. It is anticipated that these studies will lead to greater understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that are involved in structural changes in the vessel wall as related to increases in mechanical stress that accompany chronic hypertension and aging.

    Research Staff
    Tom Gerhold
    Research Associate 
    1045 ML