Effects of Dichloroacetic Acid (DCA) on Exercise Performance in Patients with Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF): a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Trial

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research
Medicine and Radiology
Western Health
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
AssociateProfessor Chris Neil christopher.neil@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page

Project Details

Millions of people worldwide are living with chronic heart failure. 40-50% of these people have Heart Failure with a Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF) contrasted with Heart Failure with a Reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF). Whilst there have been remarkable improvements in therapy and outcomes for people with HFrEF, no disease modifying therapy exists for those suffering from HFpEF, who are burdened by marked exertional intolerance. Due to this unmet need, HFpEF is a major research focus for cardiology community globally. This study will elucidate the therapeutic potential of a metabolically active drug, Dichloroacetic Acid (DCA), in HFpEF Fatty acid (beta) oxidation is the primary pathway in which myocardial cells produce the high energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is then used to maintain the function and contractility of myocardial cells, on a beat to beat basis. Oxidation of fatty acids tends to produce ATP at a higher rate of oxygen consumption, than oxidation of glucose, meaning that the latter is a more efficient metabolic fuel. DCA stimulates pyruvate dehydrogenase activity which enhances glucose metabolism. Due to this improved mechanoenergetic efficiency, it is expected that DCA administration may exercise myocardial function in patients with HFpEF. This project will be a randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial involving 20 participants with HFpEF. Participants will receive 6 weight-adjusted oral doses of DCA in 12 hour intervals over 3 days, or a matching oral placebo. After the initial phase of dosing, participants will perform a maximal exercise test and, following one week of ‘washout’, subjects will then ‘cross over’ to the other treatment allocation and repeat exercise testing.

This project is suitable for the honours student who wishes to experience translational cardiovascular research in a clinical and laboratory environment.

The project is furthermore advantageous for those applicants who may wish to pursue hospital-based employment in the long term or as a prelude to a further study in biomedicine.

School Research Themes


Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research
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 Node

Western Health

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