Author                                                                                                                              
 

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Nevine Mikhail

Biological Sciences

It was curiosity that initially brought Nevine to learn about the research possibilities available to her as a UCI undergraduate. This curiosity quickly grew into a deep interest, which has since guided her toward her ultimate goal of becoming a physician. Nevine delights in the research experience as a whole. As she says, “You will never get a more hands-on experience than the one research offers you. It’s the best way to apply what you have learned in class.” Apart from her studies, Nevine enjoys reading, playing badminton and tennis, and learning about different cultures. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Abstract                                                                                                                           
 

Estrogen is known to have cardiovascular protective effects, but the mechanisms by which this protection is mediated are not clear. This study investigates the hypothesis that estrogen increases the production of prostacyclin (PGI2) by blood vessels in the brain. PGI2 is released from endothelial cells to cause smooth muscle vasodilation and to inhibit blood clot formation. Blood vessels were isolated from the brains of ovariectomized female rats (OVX) and ovariectomized female rats treated with estrogen (OE) to compare levels of three key enzymes involved in synthesizing PGI2: phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), cyclooxygenase (COX-1), and prostacyclin synthase (PGI2-S) which lead to, and thus regulate the levels of, PGI2 formation. Estrogen treatment did not alter levels of the first enzyme in the pathway, cPLA2. However, estrogen did significantly increase protein levels of the rate-limiting enzymes COX-1 and PGI2-S, which would lead to increased production of PGI2. Thus, estrogen may protect against stroke, in part by elevating PGI2 levels in brain blood vessels.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                
 
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Diana Krause

College of Medicine


Estrogen is a promising, but still controversial treatment for stroke. In this research project, Nevine contributed significantly to our understanding of the way in which the hormone estrogen alters blood circulation in the brain. Using a rat model, she found that estrogen treatment increases levels of the enzymes that produce prostacyclin in brain blood vessels. Prostacyclin could help to reduce both the risk of and brain damage resulting from stroke since it dilates arteries to increase blood flow and inhibits blood clot formation. This project also exemplifies the win-win opportunity provided by faculty-mentored undergraduate research. Nevine gained valuable biomedical research experience, as well as one-on-one faculty guidance to help her reach her goal of entering medical school. Our laboratory also benefited from the careful work of a bright and energetic student.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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