B.S. Chemical Engineering
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering
Louisiana Tech University, Ruston
Postdoctoral training in vascular physiology
University of South Alabama
My research focuses on the extracellular matrix (ECM) alterations responsible for the development of heart failure and cardiac dysfunction in multiple disease states, including hypertension, volume overload, pressure overload, and alcoholism.
Current topics of study include:
Cardiac effects of chronic, inhaled nicotine. Vaping and eCigs use has become increasingly popular with adolescents and considered a healthy alternative to conventional cigarettes. Despite this impression, we actually known very little about the long-term health effects of inhaled nicotine.
Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (PAE) and Cardiac Function. Using a mouse model of PAE, we found that PAE caused persistent alterations in the expression of cardiac collagen and other proteins. We are investigating if these changes caused by PAE increase susceptibility of adults to cardiovascular disease.
Lysyl oxidase (LOX) and cardiac dysfunction. LOX is a collagen crosslinking enzyme, which is necessary for healthy maintenance of heart tissue. Yet, during many cardiovascular disease states, LOX expression and activity are dramatically increased. We found that inhibition of LOX activity provides dramatic cardioprotection against adverse cardiac remodeling, dysfunction and heart failure.
My laboratory utilizes rodent models of cardiac disease, including models of pressure and volume overload, and alcohol and nicotine abuse. We also use primary adult cell culture and cardiac cell lines to examine specific pathways involved in the pathology of cardiac dysfunction.
El Hajj, E.C., M.C. El Hajj, T.G. Voloshenyuk, A.J. Mouton, E. Khoutorova, P.E. Molina, N.W. Gilpin, and J.D. Gardner. Alcohol Modulation of MMP and TIMP Expression in the Heart Favors Collagen Accumulation, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38(2): 448-56, 2014.
Gardner, J.D. and A.J. Mouton. Alcohol Effects on Cardiac Function, Comprehensive Physiology, 5(2):791-802, 2015.
El Hajj, E.C., M.C. El Hajj, V.K. Ninh, J.D. Gardner. Cardioprotective Effects of Lysyl Oxidase Inhibition Against Volume Overload-induced Extracellular Matrix Remodeling, Experimental Biology and Medicine (Maywood), 241(5):539-49, 2016. Selected as “Featured Article”.
Mouton, AJ., V.K. Ninh, E.C. El Hajj, M.C. El Hajj, N.W. Gilpin, J.D. Gardner. Exposure to Chronic Alcohol Accelerates Development of Wall Stress and Eccentric Remodeling in Rats with Volume Overload. Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, 97:15-23, 2016. PMID: 27107489
El Hajj, M.C., V.K. Ninh, E.C. El Hajj, J.M. Bradley, J.D. Gardner. Estrogen Receptor Antagonism Exacerbates Cardiac Structural and Functional Remodeling in Female Rats. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol., 312(1):H98-H105, 2017. PMID: 27769996
El Hajj, E.C., M.C. El Hajj, V.K. Ninh, J.M. Bradley, M.A. Claudino, J.D. Gardner. Detrimental Role of Lysyl Oxidase in Cardiac Remodeling, J Mol Cell Cardiol., 109:17-26, 2017.
El Hajj, E.C., M.C. El Hajj, V.K. Ninh, J.D. Gardner. Inhibitor of lysyl oxidase improves cardiac function and the collagen/MMP profile in response to volume overload. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, 2018 (Accepted).
Ninh, V.K., E.C. El Hajj, A.J. Mouton, M.C. El Hajj, N.W. Gilpin, J.D. Gardner. Chronic Ethanol Administration Prevents Compensatory Cardiac Hypertrophy in Pressure Overload. Alcohol Clin Exp Res., 2018 (Accepted).