top of page

Welcome to the
Akin Lab

Understanding neuronal regulation of the cardiovascular system

Research in the Akin Lab uses high-resolution, live-cell microscopy techniques to investigate the molecular pathways involved in regulating the activity of sympathetic neurons. Specifically, we are interested in the neurons that innervate the heart, and how the activity of these neurons are  altered under conditions of disease or injury.  The autonomic nervous system helps to regulate heart rate and cardiac contractility, and the overactivation of sympathetic neurons is linked to heart failure and essential hypertension.  This overactivity is characterized by increased release of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline and neuropeptides such as neuropeptide Y (NPY). A better understanding of the underlying molecular alterations that lead to increased neuronal activity during disease can lead to more targeted therapeutic strategies.

NPY vesicles_Substack (1-50).gif
Home: Welcome

Research Projects

Our Current Focus

Dynamic Regulation of NPY trafficking

Increased plasma levels of norepinephrine (NE) and neuropeptide Y (NPY) are correlated with poor patient outcomes in diseases such as heart failure. One project in the lab is to use high-resolution, live-cell imaging to investigate the underlying molecular changes that occur in sympathetic neurons which contribute to the increased release of these neurotransmitters.  Enhancing our understanding of the molecular changes that contribute to disease progression will enable the development of novel therapeutic strategies. 

Methods used in the lab include microscopy techniques such as spinning disk confocal microscopy, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, and super-resolution STORM microscopy.  Additionally, we use cell culture, biochemistry, and molecular biology techniques (molecular cloning and expression of fluorescently tagged constructs).  


Microfluidic neuro-cardiac co-cultures

We are interested in the signaling between sympathetic neurons and cardiac cells at a molecular level.  In order to accomplish this, we grow neurons and cardiac cells together in an organized co-culture system called a microfluidic chamber. Neurons are grown such that their cell bodies (somas) remain on one side, while the axons grow through small barriers to the other side.  By adding cardiac cells to the axonal chamber, we can create a system where we can measure alterations to both neuronal and cardiac function during conditions that mimic human disease.

Beta4-EGFP in DRGs in MFC_2017-11-09.jpg
Home: Research

Key Publications

Science Advances.jpeg

Building sensory axons: Delivery and distribution of Nav1.7 channels and effects of inflammatory mediators

October 23, 2019


Paclitaxel increases axonal localization and vesicular trafficking of Nav1.7

March 18, 2021

Neuroscience paper.jpg

Depolarizing Nav and Hyperpolarizing Kv Channels Are Co-Trafficked in Sensory Neurons

June 15, 2022

Home: Publications

About Reno

The University of Nevada Reno is located near downtown Reno. Lake Tahoe is less than an hour away and the Bay area in California is about a four hour drive, offering gorgeous scenery and lots of outdoor activities.

Home: About

Contact Us

Reno, NV, USA

Thanks for submitting!

Home: Contact
bottom of page