Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Physiology and Pharmacology


Dr. Robert Gros


The process of aging is an irreversible continuum experienced by all individuals. A large number of physiological transformations occur to the cardiovascular system as one ages. These changes result in increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, many of which are frequently seen in geriatric populations. While the exact mechanisms of age-related cardiac dysfunction have not been established, abnormal cholinergic dysfunction has been implicated in the pathology of other age related diseases; therefore, we have hypothesized that age induced cholinergic dysfunction is detrimental to cardiac function and health. This study seeks to identify whether increased cholinergic signaling, either by transgenic overexpression of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT), or by drug intervention, decreases incidents of cardiovascular dysfunction with age. Our experiments suggest that cholinergic signaling is implicit in preventing age-related cardiac dysfunction. In addition, cholinergic signaling at the time of acute injury is also critical in preserving cardiac function post-injury.