Faculty Profile

Lourdes Fortepiani, Ph.D.

Research Interests

Premenopausal women are protected against cardiovascular and renal disease until they age and reach menopause. Menopause is also associated with the development of obesity in women as well as in animal models;however, little is known about postmenopausal increases in adiposity and their role in postmenopausal renal disease and hypertension. Although clinical and experimental studies have proposed that estrogen deficiency may play a major role in these pathologies, it is not clear how estrogens modulate blood pressure and renal function.

Our current research is involved with the mechanisms by which sex steroids affect blood pressure and renal hemodynamics. Our goal is to address the mechanisms of obesity-induced hypertension after menopause. My research plans are to analyze the central mechanisms of these pathologies by studying the effects of estrogen deficiency in peptides that regulate appetite such as neuropeptide Y (NPY) and vasoconstrictor systems such as angiotensin II and oxidative stress. We propose that NPY may increase blood pressure and renal disease after menopause either by increasing appetite and promoting obesity or by a direct action in the kidney. NPY can promote renal vasoconstriction leading to impairment in renal function by shifting the pressure natriuresis curve. Increased adiposity will contribute to hypertension and renal disease by promoting activating the renal angiotensin system and increasing oxidative stress. In our experiments we are using integrative cardiovascular and renal approaches at the level of whole animal but we also perform molecular and biochemical analysis. I specifically want to anatomically delimit the areas of the brain involved in regulation of blood pressure and renal function in old postmenopausal women. I believe that this is a critical area of research for several reasons. First because obesity is reaching epidemic proportions and second because the increase in life span has nearly doubled the time that women spent in menopause and suffer the associated pathologies. Overall we propose that genetic background, environmental factors such as diet and age, hormonal imbalance or alterations of estrogen receptors play a key role in postmenopausal renal dysfunction and hypertension".

Lourdes Fortepiani Education M.D., University of Murcia/Spain, 1994 Ph.D., University of Murcia/Spain, 1999
Selected Publications

Sartori-Valinotti JC, Iliescu R, Fortepiani LA, Yanes LL, Reckelhoff JF. Sex differences in oxidative stress and the impact on blood pressure control and cardiovascular disease. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2007 Sep;34(9):938-45. Review.

Fortepiani LA, Reckelhoff JF. Treatment with tetrahydrobiopterin reduces blood pressure in male SHR by reducing testosterone synthesis. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Mar;288(3):R733-6. Epub 2004
Dec 16.