Is telomere length associated with cardiac dysfunction in chronic epilepsy

Research Opportunity
PhD, Honours
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Kim Powell +61 3 9035 6394 Personal web page

Project Details

People with epilepsy are at a higher risk of death than the general population. People with epilepsy may die suddenly without an obvious pathologic cause for death. Such deaths are termed Sudden Unexpected Death in EPilepsy (SUDEP), and this is the major clinical problem facing epilepsy patients, accounting for 17-38% of all epilepsy related deaths.

Cardiac dysfunction, including arrhythmias, is common in patients with epilepsy, particularly in those with long duration of epilepsy. Short telomeres are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Telomeres are repetitive non-coding sequences of DNA located at the end eukaryotic chromosomes. They play an important role in protecting the DNA from degradation and damage during DNA replication. Each time a cell divides telomeres shorten by 30-150 base pairs. Telomeres must remain above a certain length to prevent the triggering of apoptosis in eukaryotic cells.

In an animal model of acquired epilepsy we have shown that chronically epileptic rats exhibit cardiac dysfunction (diastolic dysfunction) with associated cardiac fibrosis which is positively correlated with seizure frequency. In this study, we will investigate cardiac telomere length, tissue activity of telomerase and the expression of key telomere modulating proteins (telomerase reverse transcriptase (Tert), telomerase RNA component (Terc) and microRNA 34a (miR-34a)) in human cardiac tissue from patients with epilepsy and in genetic and acquired animal models of epilepsy.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Research Opportunities

PhD, Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Group / Unit / Centre

Molecular Epilepsy

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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