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Human Integrative and Cardiovascular Physiology

Darren Casey Lab


Darren P. Casey, PhD

Contact Information


1-155 Medical Education Building

Phone:  (319) 335-9808

Research Summary

The overall focus of the Human Integrative and Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory is to investigate how aging and cardiovascular related diseases affect endothelial and vascular function and to determine how these alterations impact blood flow, exercise tolerance, and overall health.  Additionally, we are interested in how alterations in oxygen availability (e.g., hypoxia and hypoperfusion) influence the regulation of blood flow to contracting skeletal muscle during exercise. 

Current Research Projects

Dietary Nitrates and Compensatory Vasodilation during Hypoxic Exercise - The compensatory vasodilator response to hypoxic exercise is reduced with aging.  A decreased nitric oxide (NO) signaling appears to play a role in the attenuated hypoxic vasodilation observed in older adults.  Recent evidence suggests that nitrite and nitrate metabolism occurs in the blood and various tissues to form NO and thus represents an alternative system for NO generation.  The aim of this project is to investigate the impact of acute dietary nitrate supplementation on the compensatory vasodilator response during hypoxic exercise in young and older adults.

Impact of Aging on Skeletal Muscle Blood Flow Kinetics during Exercise - The objective of this project is to examine the mechanical, endothelial,a nd neural alterations that occur in the skeletal muscle vasculature with aging and how these changes impact blood flow in exercising muscle.  Moreover, this project aims to determine if the alterations in the regulation of flow in contracting muscle of older adults are due to physiological age per se or a result of inactivity and/or disease.

Dietary Nitrates and Vascular Function in Patients with Peripheral Artery Disease - The goal of this project is to examine the potential therapeutic benefits of dietary nitrates on vascular function and functional capacity in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD).  The study uses a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study design to evaluate whether 8-weeks of dietary nitrate therapy improves vasodilator responsiveness, blood flow to contracting muscle, arterial stiffness, blood pressure, and functional capacity in patients with PAD.

Potential Subjects

We are always seeking volunteers to participate in our research.  We study a wide age range of healthy adults, as well as certain patient populations.  Financial compensation is provided.  If interested in volunteering or would like more information, please call (319) 335-9808 or email physiology-research@uiowa.edu