Wen-Pin Chen (陳文彬)

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Research in Dr. Chen’s laboratory focuses on investigating the mechanisms of cardiac diseases and identifying the appropriate pharmacological agents being able to recover cardiac function. We use a variety of approaches, including electrophysiology, imaging, molecular biology, genetics, and proteomics, to understand the problems and design solutions in the laboratory and then demonstrate the effectiveness of these solutions in vivo. We use myocardial infarction animal model to assess drug effect in preventing the heart from lethal arrhythmia and failure, and aortic banding animal model to identify drugs against cardiac remodeling.
More recently, the cardiomyocytes renewal in human was reported that fewer than 50% of cardiomyocytes are exchanged during a normal life span. By using Nkx2.5 enhancer-eGFP transgenic reporter mice to trace postnatal and adult cardiac Nkx2.5+ cells, we identified a population of Nkx2.5+ cardiac stem cells (Nkx2.5+ CSCs) that possess the potential to differentiate to cardiomyocytes or smooth muscle cell in vitro and in vivo. It might be a promising cardiac regenerative strategy via expanding the residual cardiac precursors to compensate the loss of cardiomyocytes in heart diseases. Our previous study also found the increase of cardiac Nkx2.5+ cells in post-infarcted hearts of adult mice (unpublished data). The few number of Nkx2.5+ CSCs may limit the self-repair capability. Therefore, we aim to identify the agents that can stimulate the proliferation of Nkx2.5+ CSCs. Our previous study identified a TGFRI inhibitor, A83-01, that can enhance Nkx2.5+ CSCs proliferation in vitro and in vivo as well as can enhance cardiomyogenic gene expression. Accordingly, one of my current projects is focusing on the pharmacological mechanisms in regulating the proliferation and differentiation of cardiac Nkx2.5-GFP+ precursors, and assessing whether Nkx2.5+ cell expansion can prevent the heart from cardiac remodeling and heart failure. We are also interested in the durability and functional properties of the regenerated cardiac cells.