Meredith Hay

Meredith Hay

Professor, Physiology
Professor, Evelyn F Mcknight Brain Institute
Professor, Psychology
Professor, Physiological Sciences - GIDP
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-7384

Work Summary

Our lab is focused on the development of novel peptides to inhibit this inflammatory cascade and improve brain blood flow. These peptides are designed to significantly improve serum half-life and penetrate the blood-brain-barrier. These peptides act to inhibit the inflammatory pathways at both the level of brain blood vessels and the brain itself.

Research Interest

Dr. Hay is internationally known for her work in cardiovascular neurobiology and her current studies on the role of sex and sex hormones in the development of hypertension. She has been continuously funded by the NIH and other sources for the past 26 years. She has extensive experience in central renin angiotensin mechanisms, neurophysiology and reactive oxygen and cytosolic calcium neuroimaging and in advancing knowledge related to central mechanisms of neurohumoral control of the circulation. She is a Professor of Physiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and maintains active participation in the American Physiological Society, the Society of Neuroscience, AAAS, and has served on numerous editorial boards of prestigious scientific journals and grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health and the National American Heart Association. The primary focus of Dr. Hay’s laboratory is the understanding of the biophysical and cellular mechanisms underlying neurotransmitter modulation of sympathetic outflow and ultimately arterial blood pressure. The scientific questions being asked are: 1) What central neurotransmitter mechanisms are involved in the normal regulation of cardiovascular function? 2) Does the development of some forms of hypertension involve biophysical or molecular alteration in the neurotransmitter mechanisms regulating cardiovascular control? 3) Can these central signal transduction systems, which control sympathetic outflow and ultimately arterial blood pressure, be altered in order to prevent or attenuate the development of some forms of hypertension? 4) Are there gender related differences in some of these mechanisms?Dr. Hay has extensive national experience in university-wide administration and interdisciplinary research program development. Prior to coming to the University of Arizona in 2008 as Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr. Hay was the Vice President for Research for the University of Iowa, where she worked with state and federal lawmakers, private sector representatives, and local community groups to broaden both private and public support for research universities. Dr. Hay, a Texas native, earned her B.A. in psychology from the University of Colorado, Denver, her M.S. in neurobiology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and her Ph.D. in cardiovascular pharmacology from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the Cardiovascular Center at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She was a tenured faculty member of the University of Missouri-Columbia from 1996-2005. Prior to Missouri, she was a faculty member in the Department of Physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center- San Antonio.


Hay, M., Vanderah, T. W., Samareh-Jahani, F., Constantopoulos, E., Uprety, A. J., & Barnes, C. A. (2017). Cognitive impairment in heart failure: A protective role for Angiotensin-(1-7). Behavioral Neuroscience, 131, 99-114.
BIO5 Collaborators
Carol A Barnes, Meredith Hay
Pollow, D. P., Uhrlaub, J., Romero-Aleshire, M. J., Sandberg, K., Nikolich-Zugich, J., Brooks, H. L., & Hay, M. (2014). Sex differences in T-lymphocyte tissue infiltration and development of angiotensin II hypertension. Hypertension, 64(2), 384-90.
BIO5 Collaborators
Heddwen L Brooks, Meredith Hay

There is extensive evidence that activation of the immune system is both necessary and required for the development of angiotensin II (Ang II)-induced hypertension in males. The purpose of this study was to determine whether sex differences exist in the ability of the adaptive immune system to induce Ang II-dependent hypertension and whether central and renal T-cell infiltration during Ang II-induced hypertension is sex dependent. Recombinant activating gene-1 (Rag-1)(-/-) mice, lacking both T and B cells, were used. Male and female Rag-1(-/-) mice received adoptive transfer of male CD3(+) T cells 3 weeks before 14-day Ang II infusion (490 ng/kg per minute). Blood pressure was monitored via tail cuff. In the absence of T cells, systolic blood pressure responses to Ang II were similar between sexes (Δ22.1 mm Hg males versus Δ18 mm : Hg females). After adoptive transfer of male T cells, Ang II significantly increased systolic blood pressure in males (Δ37.7 mm : Hg; P0.05) when compared with females (Δ13.7 mm : Hg). Flow cytometric analysis of total T cells and CD4(+), CD8(+), and regulatory Foxp3(+)-CD4(+) T-cell subsets identified that renal lymphocyte infiltration was significantly increased in males versus females in both control and Ang II-infused animals (P0.05). Immunohistochemical staining for CD3(+)-positive T cells in the subfornical organ region of the brain was increased in males when compared with that in females. These results suggest that female Rag-1(-/-) mice are protected from male T-cell-mediated increases in Ang II-induced hypertension when compared with their male counterparts, and this protection may involve sex differences in the magnitude of T-cell infiltration of the kidney and brain.

Pamidimukkala, J., Xue, B., Newton, L. G., Lubahn, D. B., & Hay, M. (2005). Estrogen receptor-alpha mediates estrogen facilitation of baroreflex heart rate responses in conscious mice. American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology, 288(3), H1063-70.

Estrogen facilitates baroreflex heart rate responses evoked by intravenous infusion of ANG II and phenylephrine (PE) in ovariectomized female mice. The present study aims to identify the estrogen receptor subtype involved in mediating these effects of estrogen. Baroreflex responses to PE, ANG II, and sodium nitroprusside (SNP) were tested in intact and ovariectomized estrogen receptor-alpha knockout (ERalphaKO) with (OvxE+) or without (OvxE-) estrogen replacement. Wild-type (WT) females homozygous for the ERalpha(+/+) were used as controls. Basal mean arterial pressures (MAP) and heart rates were comparable in all the groups except the ERalphaKO-OvxE+ mice. This group had significantly smaller resting MAP, suggesting an effect of estrogen on resting vascular tone possibly mediated by the ERbeta subtype. Unlike the WT females, estrogen did not facilitate baroreflex heart rate responses to either PE or ANG II in the ERalphaKO-OvxE+ mice. The slope of the line relating baroreflex heart rate decreases with increases in MAP evoked by PE was comparable in ERalphaKO-OvxE- (-6.97 +/- 1.4 beats.min(-1).mmHg(-1)) and ERalphaKO-OvxE+ (-6.18 +/- 1.3) mice. Likewise, the slope of the baroreflex bradycardic responses to ANG II was similar in ERalphaKO-OvxE- (-3.87 +/- 0.5) and ERalphaKO-OvxE+(-2.60 +/- 0.5) females. Data suggest that estrogen facilitation of baroreflex responses to PE and ANG II is predominantly mediated by ERalpha subtype. A second important observation in the present study is that the slope of ANG II-induced baroreflex bradycardia is significantly blunted compared with PE in the intact as well as the ERalphaKO-OvxE+ females. We have previously reported that this ANG II-mediated blunting of cardiac baroreflexes is observed only in WT males and not in ovariectomized WT females independent of their estrogen replacement status. The present data suggest that in females lacking ERalpha, ANG II causes blunting of cardiac baroreflexes similar to males and may be indicative of a direct modulatory effect of the ERalpha on those central mechanisms involved in ANG II-induced resetting of cardiac baroreflexes. These observations suggest an important role for ERalpha subtype in the central modulation of baroreflex responses. Lastly, estrogen did not significantly affect reflex tachycardic responses to SNP in both WT and ERalphaKO mice.

Hay, M. (1998). Cyclosporine A modulation of Ca++ activated K+ channels in cardiac sensory afferent neurons. Brain research, 786(1-2), 243-7.

Whole-cell and single channel recordings were used to characterize the effects of the immunosuppressant cyclosporine A (CsA) on cardiac sensory neurons (CSN) of the nodose ganglia. Application of 10 nM CsA resulted in a 29.1% decrease in CSN input resistance and an average -8+/-3 mV hyperpolarization of membrane potential. Application of 10 nM CsA had no effect on evoked Ca++ currents but increased evoked K+ currents by 158.9+/-24%. Application of 10 nM CsA significantly increased the open probability of KCa channels by 183+/-9%. These results suggest that application of CsA results in the activation of KCa channels in cardiac sensory neurons and this effect may contribute to the cellular mechanisms underlying CsA modulation of vagal afferent neurons.

Hasser, E. M., Cunningham, J. T., Sullivan, M. J., Curtis, K. S., Blaine, E. H., & Hay, M. (2016). Area postrema and sympathetic nervous system effects of vasopressin and angiotensin II. Clinical and experimental pharmacology & physiology, 27(5-6), 432-6.

1. Precise control over the cardiovascular system requires the integration of both neural and humoral signals related to blood volume and blood pressure. Humoral signals interact with neural systems, modulating their control over the efferent mechanisms that ultimately determine the level of pressure and volume. 2. Peptide hormones such as angiotensin (Ang)II and arginine vasopressin (AVP) act through circumventricular organs (CVO) to influence cardiovascular regulation. 3. The area postrema (AP), a CVO in the brainstem, mediates at least some of the central actions of these peptides. Vasopressin appears to act in the AP to cause sympathoinhibition and a shift in baroreflex control of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to lower pressures. These effects of AVP and the AP appear to be mediated by alpha2-adrenoceptor and glutamatergic mechanisms in the nucleus tractus solitarius. 4. In contrast to AVP AngII has effects in the AP to blunt baroreflex control of heart rate and cause sympathoexcitation. The effects of chronic AngII to increase activity of the SNS may be due to AP-dependent activation of neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla.