Now, its time for me to confuse everyone with complicated terminology! No, I’m kidding. I’m going to try my best to break down the processes of my experiment for you guys in my next couple of blog posts. I’ll start with a brief background on my research in this blog post.
As people grow older and eat unhealthy foods, calcium deposits start forming in the aorta and work their way down to the aortic valve, which is the valve in between the heart’s left ventricle and the aorta. When the aortic valve calcifies and the opening narrows (stenosis), the condition is called Calcific Aortic Valve Disease (or “CAVD” for short because nobody wants to say “Calcific Aortic Valve Disease” all day long). Here is an example of a calcified aortic valve next to a healthy aortic valve:
The stenotic (calcified) valve obviously looks super gross, so if you don’t want that in your body, make sure to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
After researching multiple genes that could be related to CAVD, we came across Sirtuin-6 (SIRT6). SIRT6 is a stress-responsive protein deacetylase and has been shown to function in pathways related to aging – previous studies have shown that complete SIRT6 knockouts lead to premature aging. Increasing age is a major risk factor for the development and progression of calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD), which is why we decided to test the effects of SIRT6 on CAVD.
In my next blog posts, I will be going into detail about how I set up the experiment and how I found the relationship between changes in the SIRT6 gene and cardiovascular calcification.