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Nick Flavahan, PhD

Department Affiliations Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
Rank Professor
Office Phone 410-502-6738
Lab Phone
Fax 410-502-7007
SOM Address R-1159 Ross

Flavahan Lab



Research Interests

The primary goal of our research is to elucidate the cellular interactions and molecular signaling pathways that control normal vascular development and function, and those that regulate the initiation of vascular disease. Normal blood vessel function is essential for survival. Blood vessels must be able to integrate diverse physical and chemical signals and respond immediately by regulating blood flow to different organs in response to their needs and the collective good of the organism. They must also be able to adapt to chronic changes in organ requirements by remodeling the blood vessel caliber or the density of the vascular network. Dysfunction of this system, for example in response to injury, environmental stimuli, or genetic susceptibility, results in vascular disease and inappropriate growth or remodeling of the vascular system (e.g., arteriosclerosis), or altered responsiveness of the vessel wall (e.g., vasospasm, hypertension). Because of its primal importance, vascular disease is by far the leading cause of death and disability in the USA and vascular mechanisms dominate the pathogenesis of many “non-vascular” diseases. We use a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the vascular system, and our methods range from biochemical or molecular analyses of cellular mediators and signaling mechanisms to physiological assessment and fluorescent microscopic imaging of signaling systems in isolated blood vessels and cultured cells. Our specialized systems enable us to directly assess the function and signaling systems within small blood vessels. We are pursuing several major projects that focus on understanding the mechanisms underlying: 1) postnatal development and maturation of the vascular system, 2) the developmental programming of vascular and metabolic diseases, 3) the vascular dysfunction associated with old age, 4) mechanotransduction of vascular cells and its role in vascular disease, 5) mechanisms responsible for the initiation of atherosclerosis, 6) the abnormal vasoreactivity of Raynaud’s phenomenon (cold-induced vasospasm), 7) the role of the sympathetic nervous system and alpha-adrenergic receptors in vascular function and disease.


Research Profile

Zhao Y, Flavahan S, Leung SW, Xu A, Vanhoutte PM, and Flavahan NA (2015) Elevated pressure causes endothelial dysfunction in mouse carotid arteries by increasing local angiotensin signaling. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 308(4):H358-63. PMID 25485905 ** Journal Featured Article, ** Journal Featured Podcast

Flavahan NA (2015). A vascular mechanistic approach to understanding Raynaud’s phenomenon. Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 11(3):146-158. PMID 25536485

Flavahan S and Flavahan NA (2014). The atypical structure and function of newborn arterial endothelium is mediated by Rho/Rho kinase signaling. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 307(4):H628-32 PMID 24951756

Flavahan S, Mozayan M, Lindgren I and Flavahan NA (2013) Pressure-induced maturation of endothelial cells on newborn mouse carotid arteries. American Journal of Physiology, 305(3):H321-9 PMID 23709593

Chotani MA and Flavahan NA (2011). Intracellular alpha2C-adrenoceptors: storage depot, stunted development or signaling domain? Biochimica et Biophysica Acta: Molecular Cell Research, 1813(8):1495-503. PMID 21605601

Goel A, Su B, Flavahan S, Lowenstein CJ, Berkowitz DE and Flavahan NA: Increased endothelial exocytosis and generation of endothelin-1 contributes to constriction of aged arteries. Circulation Research, 2010, 107(2):242-51.PMID 20522806