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Health Sciences profile

Professor Alison Heather

PositionProfessor
DepartmentDepartment of Physiology
Research summaryAtherosclerosis

Research

My research focuses on how the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, affect non-reproductive tissues in the body. My primary research investigates how these sex hormones promote calcification of atherosclerotic plaques. Atherosclerosis is the major cardiovascular disease and calcification of plaques leads to more ruptures causing heart attacks and strokes. The work performed in my laboratory is aimed at improving the understanding and safety of hormone replacement treatment use.

My research team also develops bioassays for the detection of designer androgens and estrogens that are used as doping agents in sports.

Publications

Lund, R. A., Cooper, E. R., Wang, H., Ashley, Z., Cawley, A. T., & Heather, A. K. (2021). Non-targeted detection of designer androgens: Underestimated role of in vitro bioassays. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.3049

Cooper, E. R., Hughes, G., Kauff, A., Sutherland, E., Ashley, Z., & Heather, A. K. (2021). A cell-free bioassay for the detection of androgens. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.3024

Heather, A. K., Thorpe, H., Ogilvie, M., Sims, S. T., Beable, S., Milsom, S., … Hamilton, B. (2021). Biological and socio-cultural factors have the potential to influence the health and performance of elite female athletes: A cross sectional survey of 219 elite female athletes in Aotearoa New Zealand. Frontiers in Sports & Active Living, 3, 601420. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2021.601420

Gillon, A., Ho, E. N. M., Chan, G. H. M., Kauff, A., Hughes, G., Lund, R. A., Ashley, Z., … Heather, A. K. (2020). Unravelling androgens in sport: Altrenogest shows strong activation of the androgen receptor in a mammalian cell bioassay. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.2941

Ebenebe, O. V., Ashley, Z., Erickson, J. R., & Heather, A. K. (2020). A timing effect of 17-β estradiol on atherosclerotic lesion development in female ApoE−/− mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(13), 4710. doi: 10.3390/ijms21134710

Heather, A., & McGrath, K. (2012). Cardiovascular disease and inflammation. In M. Garg & L. Wood (Eds.), Nutrition and physical activity in inflammatory diseases. (pp. 243-259). Cabi.

Chapter in Book - Research

Cooper, E. R., Hughes, G., Kauff, A., Sutherland, E., Ashley, Z., & Heather, A. K. (2021). A cell-free bioassay for the detection of androgens. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.3024

Journal - Research Article

Heather, A. K., Thorpe, H., Ogilvie, M., Sims, S. T., Beable, S., Milsom, S., … Hamilton, B. (2021). Biological and socio-cultural factors have the potential to influence the health and performance of elite female athletes: A cross sectional survey of 219 elite female athletes in Aotearoa New Zealand. Frontiers in Sports & Active Living, 3, 601420. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2021.601420

Journal - Research Article

Ebenebe, O. V., Ashley, Z., Erickson, J. R., & Heather, A. K. (2020). A timing effect of 17-β estradiol on atherosclerotic lesion development in female ApoE−/− mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(13), 4710. doi: 10.3390/ijms21134710

Journal - Research Article

Gillon, A., Ho, E. N. M., Chan, G. H. M., Kauff, A., Hughes, G., Lund, R. A., Ashley, Z., … Heather, A. K. (2020). Unravelling androgens in sport: Altrenogest shows strong activation of the androgen receptor in a mammalian cell bioassay. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.2941

Journal - Research Article

McGrath, K. C., Li, X., Twigg, S. M., & Heather, A. K. (2020). Apolipoprotein-AI mimetic peptides D-4F and L-5F decrease hepatic inflammation and increase insulin sensitivity in C57BL/6 mice. PLoS ONE, 15(1), e0226931. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226931

Journal - Research Article

Waller, C. C., Weththasinghe, S. A., McClure, L., Cawley, A. T., Suann, C., Suann, E., Sutherland, E., Cooper, E., Heather, A., & McLeod, M. D. (2020). In vivo metabolism of the designer anabolic steroid hemapolin in the thoroughbred horse. Drug Testing & Analysis, 12, 752-762. doi: 10.1002/dta.2769

Journal - Research Article

Knox, T., Anderson, L. C., & Heather, A. (2019). Transwomen in elite sport: Scientific and ethical considerations. Journal of Medical Ethics, 45, 395-403. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2018-105208

Journal - Research Article

Cooper, E. R., McGrath, K. C. Y., Li, X., & Heather, A. K. (2018). Androgen bioassay for the detection of nonlabeled androgenic compounds in nutritional supplements. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 28(1), 10-18. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0018

Journal - Research Article

Cooper, E. R., McGrath, K. C. Y., Li, X., Akram, O., Kasz, R., Kazlauskas, R., … Heather, A. K. (2017). The use of tandem yeast and mammalian cell in vitro androgen bioassays to detect androgens in internet-sourced sport supplements. Drug Testing & Analysis, 9(4), 545-552. doi: 10.1002/dta.2000

Journal - Research Article

McRobb, L. S., McGrath, K. C. Y., Tsatralis, T., Liong, E. C., Tan, J. T. M., Hughes, G., … Heather, A. K. (2017). Estrogen receptor control of atherosclerotic calcification and smooth muscle cell osteogenic differentiation. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, & Vascular Biology, 37(6), 1127-1137. doi: 10.1161/atvbaha.117.309054

Journal - Research Article

Cawley, A. T., Blakey, K., Waller, C. C., McLeod, M. D., Boyd, S., Heather, A., … Willis, A. C. (2016). Detection and metabolic investigations of a novel designer steroid: 3-chloro-17α-methyl-5α-androstan-17β-ol. Drug Testing & Analysis, 8(7), 621-632. doi: 10.1002/dta.1832

Journal - Research Article

Geronimo, F. R. B., Barter, P. J., Rye, K. A., Heather, A. K., Shearston, K. D., & Rodgers, K. J. (2016). Plaque stabilizing effects of apolipoprotein A-IV. Atherosclerosis, 251, 39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2016.04.019

Journal - Research Article

McGrath, K. C. Y., Li, X.-H., McRobb, L. S., & Heather, A. K. (2015). Inhibitory effect of a French maritime pine bark extract-based nutritional supplement on TNF-α-induced inflammation and oxidative stress in human coronary artery endothelial cells. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2015, 260530. doi: 10.1155/2015/260530

Journal - Research Article

Brown, B. E., Kim, C. H. J., Torpy, F. R., Bursill, C. A., McRobb, L. S., Heather, A. K., … van Reyk, D. M. (2014). Supplementation with carnosine decreases plasma triglycerides and modulates atherosclerotic plaque composition in diabetic apo E-/- mice. Atherosclerosis, 232(2), 403-409. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.11.068

Journal - Research Article

McGrath, K. C., Li, X. H., Whitworth, P. T., Kasz, R., Tan, J. T., McLennan, S. V., … Heather, A. K. (2014). High density lipoproteins improve insulin sensitivity in high-fat diet-fed mice by suppressing hepatic inflammation. Journal of Lipid Research, 55(3), 421-430. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M043281

Journal - Research Article

Cooper, E. R., McGrath, K. C. Y., & Heather, A. K. (2013). In vitro androgen bioassays as a detection method for designer androgens. Sensors, 13(2), 2148-2163. doi: 10.3390/s130202148

Journal - Research Article

Li, X.-H., McGrath, K. C. Y., Tran, V. H., Li, Y.-M., Duke, C. C., Roufogalis, B. D., & Heather, A. K. (2013). Attenuation of proinflammatory responses by S-[6]-gingerol via inhibition of ROS/NF-Kappa B/COX2 activation in HuH7 cells. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2013, 146142. doi: 10.1155/2013/146142

Journal - Research Article

Li, X.-H., McGrath, K. C. Y., Tran, V. H., Li, Y.-M., Mandadi, S., Duke, C. C., Heather, A. K., & Roufogalis, B. D. (2013). Identification of a calcium signalling pathway of S-[6]-gingerol in HuH-7 cells. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2013, 951758. doi: 10.1155/2013/951758

Journal - Research Article

Lim, H. Y., Chiam, C. H., Yeo, K. P., Bisoendial, R., Hii, C. S., McGrath, K. C. Y., … Heather, A., … Angeli, V. (2013). Lymphatic vessels are essential for the removal of cholesterol from peripheral tissues by SR-BI-Mediated transport of HDL. Cell Metabolism, 17(5), 671-684. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2013.04.002

Journal - Research Article

Li, X.-H., McGrath, K. C.-Y., Nammi, S., Heather, A. K., & Roufogalis, B. D. (2012). Attenuation of liver pro-inflammatory responses by Zingiber officinale via inhibition of NF-kappa B activation in high-fat diet-fed rats. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, 110(3), 238-244. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2011.00791.x

Journal - Research Article

Akram, O. N., Bursill, C., Desai, R., Heather, A. K., Kaslzuskas, R., Handelsman, D. J., & Lambert, G. (2011). Evaluation of androgenic activity of nutraceutical-derived steroids using mammalian and yeast in vitro androgen bioassays. Analytical Chemistry, 83(6), 2065-2074. doi: 10.1021/ac102845y

Journal - Research Article

Di Bartolo, B. A., Nicholls, S. J., Bao, S., Rye, K.-A., Heather, A. K., Barter, P. J., & Bursill, C. (2011). The apolipoprotein A-I mimetic peptide ETC-642 exhibits anti-inflammatory properties that are comparable to high density lipoproteins. Atherosclerosis, 217(2), 395-400. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.04.001

Journal - Research Article

Moheimani, F., Tan, J. T. M., Brown, B. E., Heather, A. K., van Reyk, D. M., & Davies, M. J. (2011). Effect of exposure of human monocyte-derived macrophages to high, versus normal, glucose on subsequent lipid accumulation from glycated and acetylated low-density lipoproteins. Experimental Diabetes Research, 2011, 851280. doi: 10.1155/2011/851280

Journal - Research Article

Bursill, C. A., Castro, M. L., Beattie, D. T., Nakhla, S., van der Vorst, E., Heather, A. K., … Rye, K.-A. (2010). High-density lipoproteins suppress chemokines and chemokine receptors in vitro and in vivo. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, & Vascular Biology, 30(9), 1773-1778. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.211342

Journal - Research Article

Fryirs, M. A., Barter, P. J., Appavoo, M., Tuch, B. E., Tabet, F., Heather, A. K., & Rye, K.-A. (2010). Effects of high-density lipoproteins on pancreatic β-cell insulin secretion. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, & Vascular Biology, 30(8), 1642-1648. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.207373

Journal - Research Article

Lane, A. E., Tan, J. T. M., Hawkins, C. L., Heather, A. K., & Davies, M. J. (2010). The myeloperoxidase-derived oxidant HOSCN inhibits protein tyrosine phosphatases and modulates cell signalling via the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in macrophages. Biochemical Journal, 430(1), 161-169. doi: 10.1042/BJ20100082

Journal - Research Article

Patel, S., Di Bartolo, B. A., Nakhla, S., Heather, A. K., Mitchell, T. W., Jessup, W., … Rye, K.-A. (2010). Anti-inflammatory effects of apolipoprotein A-I in the rabbit. Atherosclerosis, 212(2), 392-397. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.05.035

Journal - Research Article

Sieveking, D. P., Lim, P., Chow, R. W. Y., Dunn, L. L., Bao, S., McGrath, K. C. Y., Heather, A. K., … Ng, M. K. C. (2010). A sex-specific role for androgens in angiogenesis. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 207(2), 345-352. doi: 10.1084/jem.20091924

Journal - Research Article

McGrath, K. C. Y., Li, X. H., Puranik, R., Liong, E. C., Tan, J. T. M., Dy, V. M., … Heather, A. K. (2009). Role of 3β-hydroxysteroid-Δ24 reductase in mediating antiinflammatory effects of high-density lipoproteins in endothelial cells. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, & Vascular Biology, 29(6), 877-882. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.184663

Journal - Research Article

McRobb, L., Handelsman, D. J., & Heather, A. K. (2009). Androgen-induced progression of arterial calcification in apolipoprotein E-null mice is uncoupled from plaque growth and lipid levels. Endocrinology, 150(2), 841-848. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0760

Journal - Research Article

Handelsman, D. J., & Heather, A. (2008). Androgen abuse in sports. Asian Journal of Andrology, 10(3), 403-415. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7262.2008.00406.x

Journal - Research Article

Lind, J. M., Chiu, C., Ingles, J., Yeates, L., Humphries, S. E., Heather, A. K., & Semsarian, C. (2008). Sex hormone receptor gene variation associated with phenotype in male hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients. Journal of Molecular & Cellular Cardiology, 45(2), 217-222. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2008.05.016

Journal - Research Article

McGrath, K.-C. Y., McRobb, L. S., & Heather, A. K. (2008). Androgen therapy and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Vascular Health & Risk Management, 4(1), 11-21. doi: 10.2147/vhrm.2008.04.01.11

Journal - Research Article

McRobb, L., Handelsman, D. J., Kazlauskas, R., Wilkinson, S., McLeod, M. D., & Heather, A. K. (2008). Structure—activity relationships of synthetic progestins in a yeast-based in vitro androgen bioassay. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 110(1-2), 39-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2007.10.008

Journal - Research Article

Lund, R. A., Cooper, E. R., Wang, H., Ashley, Z., Cawley, A. T., & Heather, A. K. (2021). Non-targeted detection of designer androgens: Underestimated role of in vitro bioassays. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.3049

Journal - Research Other

Ebenebe, O. V., Heather, A., & Erickson, J. R. (2018). CaMKII in vascular signalling: “Friend or foe”? Heart, Lung & Circulation, 27(5), 560-567. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2017.12.003

Journal - Research Other

Sims, S. T., & Heather, A. K. (2018). Myths and methodologies: Reducing scientific design ambiguity in studies comparing sexes and/or menstrual cycle phases. Experimental Physiology, 103(10), 1309-1317. doi: 10.1113/ep086797

Journal - Research Other

Denny, A. P., & Heather, A. K. (2017). Are antioxidants a potential therapy for FSHD? A review of the literature. Oxidative Medicine & Cellular Longevity, 7020295. doi: 10.1155/2017/7020295

Journal - Research Other

McGrath, K. C. Y., & Heather, A. K. (2012). Endoplasmic reticulum stress in inflammatory disease. Endocrinology, 153(7), 2949-2952. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1478

Journal - Research Other

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