Vinay Penna

MSTP in PhD Training

Program: Immunology

Current advisor: Kory J. Lavine, MD, PhD

Undergraduate university: Washington University, 2017

Enrollment year: 2019

Research summary
Role of Immune System in Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy

Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (ACM) is a genetic form of heart failure, affecting 1 in 5000 people globally. It is caused by mutations in cardiac desmosomal proteins including PKP2, DSP, and DSG2. Individuals with ACM suffer from life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death, and end stage heart failure with the only curative therapy being heart transplantation. Much of the active research has focused on studying the resulting dysfunction of these mutations in cardiomyocytes, which have surprisingly revealed a striking inflammatory response in ACM. Consistent with this, prominent myocardial fibrosis and inflammation have been observed in over 70 percent of patient autopsy samples. The characterization of these inflammatory cells and areas of fibrosis has been limited and the potential contribution of this immune response to the mechanisms driving ACM disease progression has been poorly defined. For this project, my goal is to set out to characterize the cellular and transcriptional landscape of ACM and use an established mouse model of ACM to determine the functional contribution of immune cell activation to ACM disease progression.

Graduate publications
Bailey AL, Dmytrenko O, Greenberg L, Bredemeyer AL, Ma P, Liu J, Penna V, Winkler ES, Sviben S, Brooks E, Nair AP, Heck KA, Rali AS, Simpson L, Saririan M, Hobohm D, Stump WT, Fitzpatrick JA, Xie X, Zhang X, Shi PY, Hinson JT, Gi WT, Schmidt C, Leuschner F, Lin CY, Diamond MS, Greenberg MJ, Lavine KJ. 2021 SARS-CoV-2 Infects Human Engineered Heart Tissues and Models COVID-19 Myocarditis. JACC Basic Transl Sci, 6(4):331-345. PMCID: PMC7909907