Vascular Smooth Muscle and Human Diseases

The Zheng Lab Website

We are interested in the research of smooth muscle, which is different from skeletal muscle and the muscle in the heart. Smooth muscle is within the walls of all internal organ systems, such as the blood vessel, gastrointestinal tract, the bladder and uterus. A major role of smooth muscle is to maintain proper organ shape through its contraction and relaxation. If smooth muscle loses its ability to contract and/or relax for whatever reason, this dysfunction will present as clinical symptoms of a disease. For example, clinical hypertension can result from too much contraction of blood vessel smooth muscle. In addition, too much growth of smooth muscle cells will result in thickening and hardening of the blood vessel wall, a condition called atherosclerosis, which is a major cause of heart attack and stroke. In summary, we study why smooth muscle loses its contractility and why these muscle cells can grow uncontrolled.

Zheng Lab