Aging is associated with stiffening and blockages of blood vessels that can reduce blood flow causing injury to muscle and skin. Veterans are particularly vulnerable to this disease, called Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). If untreated, PAD can be progressive and require major amputation. PAD is accelerated by smoking and diabetes which can increase risk of major amputation by 15-20-fold. PAD also causes leg pain and difficulty walking or performing basic tasks.
Luke Brewster, MD, PhD is a Staff Vascular Surgeon at the Atlanta VA. Dr. Brewster notes that while vascular blockage can be treated with medicine and interventions, these treatments are limited in their ability to restore vascular health and function. As a result, Dr. Brewster supervises a laboratory that seeks to employ regenerative medicine approaches to improve blood flow and reduce the complications of PAD. These studies could lead to better and more effective treatments for PAD and reduce symptoms and the need for amputation and other invasive procedures.
Dr. Brewster’s lab is currently examining ways to improve the survival of transplanted regenerative cells into diabetic animals and determine how these cells work over time. They have found that a synthetic hydrogel can improve the survival of regenerative cells from diabetic patients to promote vascular regeneration under poor blood flow conditions. They are also performing studies to test the strengthening benefits of exercise training to enable caretakers to design optimal exercise regimens for patients with PAD. The goal of these projects is to inform the next generation of clinical trials designed to improve the care and quality of life for Veterans with PAD.
Recent publications related to these studies include:
Chadid T, Morris A, Surowiec A, Robinson S, Sasaki M, Galipeau J, Pollack BP, Brewster LP. Reversible secretome and signaling defects in diabetic mesenchymal stem cells from peripheral arterial disease patients. J Vasc Surg. 2018 68(6S):137S-151S.PMID: 30104096
Long CA, Timmins LH, Koutakis P, Goodchild TT, Lefer DJ, Pipinos II, Casale GP, Brewster LP. An endovascular model of ischemic myopathy from peripheral arterial disease. J Vasc Surg. 2017 66(3):891-901. PMID: 27693032