The School of Kinesiology’s Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology (LIHP), directed by Donald Dengel, Ph.D., lives up to its name—it is “integrative” in a number of ways, from the range of human systems studied to its numerous collaborations with other research facilities on campus. Located in Mariucci Arena on the U of M’s East Bank, LIHP uses an integrated approach to examine the effects of various diseases, such as cancer and obesity, and treatments (aerobic exercise, weight loss, medication, etc.) on peripheral, cardiac and cerebrovascular systems. The lab uses many state-of-the-art techniques, including some that were developed or adapted in-house and works closely with the U of M’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s (CTSI) Human Performance Core and Densitometry Services, which is also directed by Dengel.
The lab uses a number of tools that are crucial in conducting the research. Dengel explained that the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is used to conduct a series of studies examining the effects of obesity, multiple concussions and chemotherapy on cerebral vascular function and neurocognition in a variety of populations. The RespirAct, a device designed to control end-tidal gas concentrations in the lungs and blood, can be used in diagnostic procedures to measure vascular reactivity. Another important tool is the Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometer (DXA), used to measure bone mineral density.
Using a novel method of DXA to segment the upper leg into the anterior (quadriceps) and posterior (hamstrings) compartments, we may be able to provide further information into the relationship between lean muscle mass and strength measures pre- and post- ACL reconstruction surgery,” says second year Kinesiology master’s student and graduate assistant Christiana Raymond.
Some of the current research projects in the lab include “The Determination of Abdominal Visceral Fat,” “The Influence of Human Obesity on Circulating Microparticles in Adults and Children and Adolescents,” “Validation of Circulating Endothelial Cells and Microparticles in Youth,” and “Novel Functional MRI of Reno-Cerebrovascular Endothelial Dysfunction with PCO2/PO2 Challenges in Chronic Kidney Disease.” In 2012, Dengel was awarded a nearly $100,000 NFL Charities Medical Research Grant for the project, “Effects of Multiple Sports-Related Concussions on Neurocognition and Cerebral Vascular Function.” The LIHP is currently analyzing the data from this project. Dengel and his lab associates collaborate on projects across campus with pediatrics, medicine, psychiatry, radiology, nursing, and public health, as well as institutions such as Northwestern University, Children’s Hospital Orange County, and Texas Christian University.
In the next five years, Dengel says that he sees “the use of DXA to measure body composition variables that will predict athletic success” as an important part of his research. Another direction his research headed is using the measurement of renal blood flow using hypoxia and hypercapnia during MRI.