Cardiovascular Physiology

Ion channels in the cardiovascular system

With a background in electrophysiology, cardiovascular pharmacology and cardiac arrhythmia my work is focused on the function of ion channels in the heart and in the vascular smooth muscle cells. I have a keen interest in clarifying how the different subtypes of potassium channels stabilize the heart rhythm, relax the vasculature and how they lend themselves as drug targets.

Cardiac arrhythmia studied in patients, animal models and single channel proteins has been my largest research field for the last 10 years. The genetic analysis of large cohorts of patients followed by functional physiological studies has led to a better understanding of the biological background of atrial fibrillation through contributions from most members of the Ion Channel Group. The current work is characterized by use of non-biased, large-scale techniques and analysis of large data applied to well-characterized clinical cohorts of arrhythmia patients.

The studies in the vasculature aim at understanding the regulation of the coronary artery tone. The coronaries are among the most important arteries in the body, but in practical terms they are smaller to work with than most other arteries and the knowledge about their regulatory pathways is surprisingly limited.

We have developed pharmacological tool compounds selectively activating or inhibiting a number of specific potassium channel subtypes (BK, IK, SK, Kv7, Kv11) and used these to characterize the functional role of the channels. The most advanced study is currently the use of selective SK channel inhibitors for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Many of the families of ion channels found in the cardiovascular system are also expressed in the nervous system. We address the targeting of K channel subtypes in neurons and aim at transferring the knowledge about the specific trafficking systems to other polarized cells including cardiac myocytes.

Group members

Søren-Peter Olesen Søren-Peter Olesen, MD, PhD
Phone: +45 2028 9706
See CV and publication list