Research Group

  • Dr. Adam Szewczyk, Principal Investigator
  • Anna Kicinska, Research Associate
  • Grazyna Debska, Research Associate


  • Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Warsaw, Poland


  • Improving the Preservation of Heart Transplants: the Role of Mitochondrial Ion Channels

Mitochondria play a central role in energy-generating processes within the cell. Despite this important function, mitochondria also seem to be involved in such complex processes as cardioprotection. Recently, ischaemic preconditioning has emerged as a new strategy for improving the preservation of heart transplants. Hence, there is a continuing effort to identify the mechanisms of the ischaemic preconditioning signalling pathways in an attempt to use similar mechanisms therapeutically during heart transplantation.

Mitochondria attract attention due to the identification of the ATP-regulated potassium channel in mitochondria and its possible role as an effector in ischaemic preconditioning in heart. It has been shown that mitochondrial potassium channel openers (e.g. diazoxide) can protect ischaemic myocardium. These findings support the concept that cardioprotective effects of ischaemic preconditioning can be simulated by mitochondrial potassium channel openers. Activation of mitochondrial channels could be an effective means of improving the preservation of ischaemic cold-stored hearts.

The aim of this project is to identify the mechanisms responsible for cardioprotective action of potassium channel openers acting on mitochondria in cardiac myocytes. The project may lead to the definition of new concepts concerning ischemic preconditioning via stimulation of mitochondrial channels by potassium channel openers and its application to improve the preservation of ischaemic cold-stored hearts, for example during cardiac transplantation.