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Cardiovascular Sciences

Houston, Texas

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Section of Cardiovascular Sciences
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Katarzyna A. Cieslik, Ph.D.


Education and Training

M.Sc.: Jagiellonian University, Institute of Molecular Biology, Krakow, Poland (1992)
Ph.D.: Jagiellonian University, Medical School, Krakow, Poland (2003)
Post-doctoral Training: University of Texas, Houston, Texas (2003-2005)

Research Interests

Dr. Cieslik's research interests focus on dysfunction of cardiac mesenchymal progenitors in aged animals and signal transduction.

In the normal process of repair after cardiac injury, multipotential mesenchymal progenitor cells migrate to the infarcted area while preferentially maturing into fibroblasts that deposit collagen to form a scar and myofibroblasts that express the alpha smooth muscle actin (aSMA) to contract the scar. The ability of the progenitors to participate in the scar formation, especially with respect to maturation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts, decreases with age.

Specifically we investigate:

  • Molecular signals leading to changes of lineage choice in aged cardiac mesenchymal progenitors. We observed a shift in the preferential maturation of primitive precursors from the fibroblast lineage to the adipocytic lineage.
  • Changes of expression profile and signaling pathways in concert with impaired aged myofibroblast maturation. Young progenitors differentiate into fibroblasts and mature into functioning myofibroblasts expressing high level of aSMA and with the ability to migrate towards TGF-β. Cells isolated from aged animals are almost incapable of migrating towards TGF-ß and display reduced aSMA expression.
  • Insulin dependent changes of transcription factors related to stem cell renewal and lineage choice. Our goal is to partially restore the capacity of aged cardiac mesenchymal progenitor cells in regards to fibroblast lineage by interfering with elevated activation of PI3K/Akt pathway (in vivo model).


1. Th1/M1 conversion to th2/m2 responses in models of inflammation lacking cell death stimulates maturation of monocyte precursors to fibroblasts. Trial J, Cieslik KA, Haudek SB, Duerrschmid C, Entman ML. Front Immunol. 2013 Sep 18;4:287. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00287. PMID:2406596, PMCID:PMC3776235

2. AICAR-dependent AMPK activation improves scar formation in the aged heart in a murine model of reperfused myocardial infarction. Cieslik KA, Taffet GE, Crawford JR, Trial J, Mejia Osuna P, Entman ML. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2013 Oct;63C:26-36. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2013.07.005. Epub 2013 Jul 19. PMID: 23871790

3. Aberrant differentiation of fibroblast progenitors contributes to fibrosis in the aged murine heart: role of elevated circulating insulin levels. Cieslik KA, Trial J, Carlson S, Taffet GE, Entman ML. FASEB J. 2013 Apr;27(4):1761-71. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-220145. Epub 2013 Jan 9. PMID: 23303205, PMCID: PMC3606539

4. 14-3-3ε plays a role in cardiac ventricular compaction by regulating the cardiomyocyte cell cycle. Kosaka Y, Cieslik KA, Li L, Lezin G, Maguire CT, Saijoh Y, Toyo-oka K, Gambello MJ, Vatta M, Wynshaw-Boris A, Baldini A, Yost HJ, Brunelli L. Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Dec;32(24):5089-102. doi:10.1128/MCB.00829-12. Epub 2012 Oct 15. PMID: 23071090, PMCID:PMC3510533

5. Origin of developmental precursors dictates the pathophysiologic role of cardiac fibroblasts. Crawford JR, Haudek SB, Cieslik KA, Trial J, Entman ML. J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2012 Dec;5(6):749-59. doi: 10.1007/s12265-012-9402-7. Epub 2012 Sep 13. Review. PMID: 22972312, PMCID:PMC3518725.

6. Defective myofibroblast formation from mesenchymal stem cells in the aging murine heart rescue by activation of the AMPK pathway. Cieslik KA, Trial J, Entman ML. Am J Pathol. 2011 Oct;179(4):1792-806. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.06.022. Epub 2011 Aug 3. PMID: 21819956, PMCID:PMC3181380.

7. Immune-inflammatory dysregulation modulates the incidence of progressive fibrosis and diastolic stiffness in the aging heart. Cieslik KA, Taffet GE, Carlson S, Hermosillo J, Trial J, Entman ML. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2011 Jan;50(1):248-56. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2010.10.019. Epub 2010 Oct 23. PMID: 20974150, PMCID: PMC3019252.

8. Essential role of C-Rel in nitric-oxide synthase-2 transcriptional activation: time-dependent control by salicylate. Cieslik KA, Deng WG, Wu KK. Mol Pharmacol. 2006 Dec;70(6):2004-14. Epub 2006 Sep 8. PMID: 16963620.

9. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-delta upregulates 14-3-3 epsilon in human endothelial cells via CCAAT/enhancer binding protein-beta. Brunelli L, Cieslik KA, Alcorn JL, Vatta M, Baldini A. Circ Res. 2007 Mar 16;100(5):e59-71. Epub 2007 Feb 15. PMID: 17303761

10. Protein kinase C delta mediates platelet-induced breast cancer cell invasion. Alonso-Escolano D, Medina C, Cieslik K, Radomski A, Jurasz P, Santos-Martínez MJ, Jiffar T, Ruvolo P, Radomski MW. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2006 Jul;318(1):373-80. Epub 2006 Apr 14. PMID: 16617167

11. Inhibition of p90 ribosomal S6 kinase-mediated CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein beta activation and cyclooxygenase-2 expression by salicylate. Cieslik KA, Zhu Y, Shtivelband M, Wu KK. J Biol Chem. 2005 May 6;280(18):18411-7. Epub 2005 Feb 28. PMID: 15738002

12. Transcriptional Control of COX-2 via C/EBPbeta. Wu KK, Liou JY, Cieslik K. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2005 Apr;25(4):679-85. Epub 2005 Jan 27. Review. PMID:15681294

13. Salicylate suppresses macrophage nitric-oxide synthase-2 and cyclo-oxygenase-2 expression by inhibiting CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-beta binding via a common signaling pathway. Cieslik K, Zhu Y, Wu KK. J Biol Chem. 2002 Dec 20;277(51):49304-10. Epub 2002 Oct 11. PMID: 12379662

14. Up-regulation of endothelial nitric-oxide synthase promoter by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase gamma /Janus kinase 2/MEK-1-dependent pathway. Cieslik K, Abrams CS, Wu KK. J Biol Chem. 2001 Jan 12;276(2):1211-9. PMID: 11042169

15. Transcriptional regulation of endothelial nitric-oxide synthase by an interaction between casein kinase 2 and protein phosphatase 2A. Cieslik K, Lee CM, Tang JL, Wu KK. J Biol Chem. 1999 Dec 3;274 (49) 34669-75. PMID: 10574932

16. Transcriptional regulation of endothelial nitric-oxide synthase by lysophosphatidylcholine. Cieslik K, Zembowicz A, Tang JL, Wu KK. J Biol Chem. 1998 Jun 12;273(24):14885-90. PMID: 9614091

17. Cyanonitrosylmetallates as potential NO-donors. Oszajca J, Stochel G, Wasielewska E, Stasicka Z, Gryglewski RJ, Jakubowski A, Cieslik K. J Inorg Biochem. 1998 Feb 1;69(1-2):121-7. PMID: 9606942

18. The effect of nitric oxide donors on the release of plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI) from rabbit platelets in vitro. Korbut R, Marcinkiewicz E, Cieslik K, Gryglewski RJ. J Physiol Pharmacol. 1995 Mar;46(1):37-44. PMID: 7599336

19. Mesoionic oxatriazole derivatives--a new group of NO-donors. Karup G, Preikschat H, Wilhelmsen ES, Pedersen SB, Marcinkiewicz E, Cieslik K, Gryglewski RJ. Pol J Pharmacol. 1994 Nov-Dec;46(6): 541-52. PMID: 7620516

20. Immunomodulatory activities of Nocardia opaca. Tomecki JK, Cieslik K, Kordowiak AM, Barot R. Acta Microbiol Pol. 1993;42(2):151-6. PMID: 7509560

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