Exercise and Cardio-Metabolic Health

Our laboratory aims to improve the cardiovascular and metabolic health of individuals with pediatric and adult metabolic disease.

Specifically, our laboratory aims to study mechanisms of and treatments (exercise/nutritional/pharmacologic/gene therapy) for  cardiovascular disease and metabolic, energetic, and functional abnormalities in skeletal muscle, heart, adipose tissue, liver and brain. We study metabolic diseases including: Barth syndrome and other pediatric and adult cardiomyopathies, HIV-related metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. We are also interested in the effect of the maternal metabolic environment during pregnancy on in utero development and childhood metabolic disease including obesity, diabetes, and HIV. We are in particularly interested in the use of exercise as a tool to study and intervention to improve in the cardio-metabolic health of these conditions. Our lab employs methodology used to measure whole-body substrate metabolism by stable isotope tracers and mass spectrometry, myocardial substrate metabolism by radio-isotopes and PET imaging, heart and skeletal muscle energetics by magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), peak fitness assessment by graded exercise testing and indirect calorimetry, cardiac function by echocardiography, vascular function by peripheral arterial tonometry and applanation tonometry, body composition analysis by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and air displacement plethymosgraphy, muscle strength by isokinetic dynamometry, and daily physical activity by actigraphy.

Picture 1 of 5

Faculty Investigators

W. Todd Cade, PT, PhD


Kathryn Bohnert, MS


Chao Cao, MPH, PhD Student
Kathryn Brown, DPT Student

Current Research Studies

Acute Effects of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise on Maternal Glucose Metabolism and Vascular Function in Obese Pregnancy
Funding Source: National Rehabilitation Research Resource to Enhance Clinical Trials (REACT) P2C HD086851 (Sub-Award PI: Cade WT)                                                         

This study will collect preliminary data on the independent effects of acute aerobic and resistance rehabilitative exercise in obese women during pregnancy.

Characterization of the ‘Metabolic Phenotype’ in Barth Syndrome with Cardiac Transplantation
Funding Source: Barth Syndrome Foundation (PI: Cade WT)

The goal of this study is to characterize the metabolic ‘phenotype’ (cardioskeletal morphology, substrate metabolism, energetics and function) of participants with BTHS who with cardiac transplantation.

Mechanisms and Treatment of Cardioskeletal Dysfunction in Barth Syndrome
Funding Source: R01 HL136759 (PI: Pacak C, University of Florida, Role: Co-I)

The main purpose of this study is to characterize skeletal and cardiac muscle pathology in human derived inducible pluripotent stem cells differentiated myocytes.

Effectiveness of Resistance Exercise Training Program in Youth with CF
Funding Source: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (PI: Granados A, Role: Co-I)

The goal of this proposal is to conduct a pilot study in CF patients to determine the relationship between LBM and glucose dysregulation, and the feasibility of conducting a 12 weeks supervised resistance exercise training (RET) in subjects with CF and abnormal glucose tolerance.

Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cardiac, Metabolic and Muscle Function and Quality of Life in Barth Syndrome: Part 2
Funding Source: Barth Syndrome Foundation (PI: Cade WT)

The major goal of this project is to examine the safety and efficacy of resistance exercise training and protein supplementation in boys and young men with Barth syndrome.

Planning for Clinical Gene Therapy Program for Barth Syndrome
Funding Source: Barth Syndrome Foundation (PI: Byrne BJ, Role: Co-I)

The overall goal of the project is to refine and translate the current preclinical work with the goal of pushing toward clinical realization.  In particular, we propose simultaneous initiation of regulatory paperwork processes along with completing necessary baseline characterization data and toxicological analysis of a gene therapy strategy of systemic delivery of AAV9-TAZ for the treatment of Barth syndrome.

Heart and Skeletal Muscle Nutrient Metabolism, Energetics and Function in Barth Syndrome
Funding Source: NIH 1 R01HL107406-01A1 NCE (PI: Cade WT)

The major goals of this project are to characterize myocardial and skeletal muscle nutrient metabolism, energetics and function in children and young adults with Barth syndrome.

HIV- and ART-Associated Cardiometabolic Research Training in Rwanda
Funding Source: Fogarty Center D43 TW010335 01 (PI: Mutimura E, Role: Co-I)

The overall goal of this training strategy is to develop scientific leadership in HIV- and ART-associated cardiometabolic (CM) research in Rwanda through developing a dynamic team of scholars to implement well- designed contextually relevant studies, publish and present results at scientific meetings, and for networking, and develop expertise for independent research funding.

Exercise Training to Improve Brain Health in HIV+ Individuals
Funding Source: R01 NR015738-01A1 (PI: Ances BM, Role: Co-I)

This project will test the impact of a combined endurance and resistance exercise training program on the cognitive health of people with HIV infection.

Combining Testosterone Therapy and Exercise to Improve Function Post Hip Fracture
Funding Source: R01 AG051647-01 (PI: Binder E, Role: Co-I)

The overall goals of this study are to evaluate, in elderly female hip fracture patients, the benefits of short-term testosterone therapy combined with supervised exercise, on mobility and quality of life during the year following the fracture, which is a problem with a large public health impact.

The Inorganic Nitrate for Exercise in Heart Failure (INIX-HF) Trial
Funding Source: R34 HL138253 02 (PI: Peterson LR, Role: Co-I)                         

The overarching aim of this study (and the follow-up randomized clinical trial [RCT]) is to determine whether inorganic nitrate offers a new, safe and effective treatment for ameliorating the disability due to heart failure reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF).

Past Research Studies

Safety and Efficacy of Aerobic Exercise Training in Barth Syndrome (Barth Syndrome Foundation)

Maternal Lipid Metabolism and Neonatal Heart Function in Diabetes Mellitus (Thrasher Research Fund)

Exercise and TZD Effects on Myocardial Substrate Metabolism and Function in HIV (KDK074343A)