KIMBERLY LONDER BS
from the University of Maryland, Baltimore
Kimberly Londer BS works at the BioMET Center, in the University of Maryland. She is multi-focal and works with the orthopedic department and as a cardiac research assistant. She is using ecgTUNNEL to capture ECG on young mice, without anesthesia.
We are pleased to share an interview with Kimberly, who kindly shared her thoughts about her research with us.
Q: What interests you the most about your research ?
A: I am very interested in how daily aspects of life, i.e. diet, sleep, and exercise affect the heart and implications of heart disease with age. I was drawn to this type of research from an artistic background. I enjoy creating/designing models and some of the newest heart treatments include 3D printed clamps and valves that assist with atrial and/or ventricular function.
Q: What does the general landscape of this research area currently look like ?
A: Much of the research involved in heart disease is focused on the role of calcium movement in and out of cells and how mitochondrial changes, whether genetic/congenital, or as a result of injury, can alter heart function.
Q: What are the real-world implications of your research?
A: The use of emka’s non-invasive ecgTUNNEL allows me to phenotype animals for various heart conditions. With this information, the BioMET research team is developing treatment options for a double transgenic mouse model with atrial fibrillation (AF). It is hoped that these treatments could be developed further for use in human patients suffering from AF.
Q: How long have you been an emka TECHNOLOGIES user?
A: About 6 months.
Q: How has using ecgTUNNEL helped with improving the translatability and reproducibility of your research?
A: Using ecgTUNNEL has been more-so groundbreaking rather than “improving” as there is few systems, publications, or data that exists on small animal ECG without the use of anesthesia or telemetry. The data captured from the ECG is easily reproducible with an appropriate acclimation period within the ecgTUNNEL prior to recording. The recordings are very clean with minimal smoothing and filtering.
Q: What were some insights that emka equipment has helped you obtain?
A: emka equipment has helped our research lab compile data of heart rates, R-R rates, QT lengths, and more in animals that are unanesthetized and without telemetry implants. This feature of emka’s equipment eliminates issues associated with other methods like lowered heart rate and increased stress.
Q: What other measurements are taken alongside ECG, and why?
A: Outside of using ECG parameters, heart tissue is analyzed for hypertrophy, fibrosis, mitochondrial function and calcium levels. Some of the mice are also put on an echocardiogram. These studies are performed to further the understanding of the mechanisms that perpetuate AF.
Q: What features of the equipment or software do you find most useful?
A: Being able to have a library of waves which you can label yourself is very helpful. It allows me to scan an entire recording for AF, ventricular disorders and other arrhythmias of interest within seconds. The different options for smoothing and wave detection are great. I enjoy being able to compare the raw data to the filtered data within the same window on the ecgAUTO program.
Q: What was the reasoning behind selecting your animal model?
A: We use a model of mouse that, with appropriate breeding scheme, is born with AF with symptoms manifesting as early as 2 months old. We are using this model in a series of AF experiments.
Q: What advice do you have for someone starting out in this research area?
A: Due to the limited research involving the true shape of the mouse ECG, I would recommend additional research outside of a regular ECG course. Mouse heart waves are different than humans due to the increased heart rate which results in the lack of a plateau phase and a “J” wave at the end of the QRS complex. This difference must be accounted for when comparing research data of mice to that of clinical data from human patients.
Q: What’s next for your lab and your research?
A: I will continue to use the ECG to positively phenotype the mice for AF and other arrhythmias. Within the next months, we plan to administer different drugs in hopes of reducing or eliminating the burden of AF in the mice.
Q: Any specific recommendations, to finish with?
A: When putting animal in, it’s easiest to have head restraint as far back as possible. put animal in and immediately tighten side knob so that tunnel cannot move (Mice are strong enough to push top tunnel off if not done immediately) THEN, adjust head and rear restraints to desired location. Some of my calmer mice don’t even get restrained anymore, they just walk right in, and take a nap. I do always adjust rear restraint so they cannot back out but I often do not have to use head restraint. I would also recommend to:
- . Put animal in ecgTUNNEL and let sit for a few moments once or twice before actual recording begins. (2-5 min/day, a day or so prior to recording).
- . Record in a dim/dark room with limited noise or cover tunnel.
- . Use electrode gel, readings come out much clearer than without.
- . Watch for moving hands and feet! Often times, the mice push their back legs out of the whole where their tail is supposed to come. Give them a little tickle with a pen tip to get them to readjust their footing.
- . Keep cages of mice away from those on tunnel. Sounds and smells of cage mates are distracting!