Karl-Erik Andersson Receives Research Fellowship

Karl-Erik Andersson, MD, PhD, professor at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has received a one-year Dale T. Mortensen senior research fellowship at Aarhus University, Denmark. Andersson is researching the possibility that reduced blood flow to the pelvic area is a cause of bladder problems as people age and that certain drugs can relieve symptoms.

The symptoms associated with age-related bladder dysfunction represent an increasing problem due to extended life expectancies. Symptoms can include increased urgency or frequency of urination, incomplete voiding and in men, a poor stream or urinary hesitancy. An estimated 45 percent of the worldwide population in 2008 was affected by at least one lower urinary tract symptom (LUTS). By 2018, the percentage is expected to increase by 18 percent.

Andersson’s research is based on the hypothesis that age-related reduction of blood flow to the lower urinary tract can contribute to bladder and prostate dysfunction and lead to structural changes and functional disturbances such as overactive and underactive bladder. In addition, he hyphothesizes that the consequences of chronic pelvic ischemia on bladder and prostate structure and function can be improved by drugs.

“The fellowship has been a real sanctuary, making it possible for me to in detail analyze and interpret data that we have collected at Wake Forest and to continue to generate data in Aarhus and Japan,” said Andersson.

Andersson’s research is based on the well-known fact that vessel dysfunction is associated with oxidative stress, and that certain “molecular messengers” between cells promote inflammation and are a risk factor for atherosclerosis and hypertension. Recent evidence from population, patient and animal research suggests that aging-associated changes in the pelvic vasculature, resulting in atherosclerosis and vascular dysfunction, may be important contributing factors to LUTS.

Using a rat model of chronic pelvic ischemia developed at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the project has shown that a chronic reduction of blood flow to the lower urinary tract can contribute to dysfunction. In addition, Andersson and fellow researchers have shown that the consequences of chronic pelvic ischemia on bladder and prostate structure and function can be improved by certain drugs.

“These symptoms have a significant effect on quality of life,” said Andersson. “Our team’s ultimate goal is to identify better ways to treat this common problem.”

 

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