CMRC Children's Memorial Research Center

Kathryn N Farrow M.D., PhD
  Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Div. of Neonatology
Associate Member, Molecular and Cellular Pathobiology Program

Research Interests
Dr. Kathryn Farrow is currently an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics and Division of Neonatology as well as an Associate Member of the Molecular and Cellular Pathobiology Program at CMRC. Her lab focuses on the molecular mechanisms at work in persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). PPHN is a common entity that arises in term and near-term newborns for a variety of reasons such as meconium aspiration, infection, asphyxia, and congenital diaphragmatic hernia. While recent advances in therapy have decreased the need for the most extreme and invasive therapeutic modality, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), there is still significant morbidity and mortality associated with this disease, and thus new therapies are urgently needed. Dr. Farrow’s research centers on the tissue-specific and developmental regulation of phosphodiesterases (PDEs) in the pulmonary vasculature, both in normal transition after birth, as well as in the context of PPHN. Phosphodiesterases are cellular enzymes that degrade cyclic nucleotides, which are key vasodilators within the pulmonary vasculature. There is evidence from animal models that these enzymes play an important role in maintaining and regulating pulmonary vascular tone. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling the regulation of phosphodiesterases in the pulmonary vasculature, particularly in the disease state, will ultimately lead to the development of new clinical strategies to improve clinical outcomes in PPHN.
In a paper recently submitted for publication, Dr. Farrow’s laboratory has demonstrated that exposure to high levels of oxygen, which is a common treatment for PPHN, leads to increased PDE5 expression and activity in the pulmonary vascular smooth muscle of neonatal sheep. This increased PDE5 expression and activity leads to decreased pulmonary vascular relaxation in response to nitric oxide, a common pulmonary vasodilator. These data suggest that exposure to high levels of oxygen may in fact be detrimental to infants with PPHN and may decrease their responsiveness to inhaled nitric oxide, which is the only drug currently FDA-approved to treat these infants. In the future, new drugs such as PDE5 inhibitors or anti-oxidants may play an important role in the treatment of infants with PPHN.
Ongoing projects within the laboratory include investigation of the ability of anti-oxidants such as superoxide dismutase and catalase to block the deleterious effects of oxygen as well as the ability of sildenafil, a PDE5 inhibitor, to restore normal responsiveness to nitric oxide in cells exposed to high oxygen. The lab also has ongoing investigations into oxygen-mediated regulation of soluble guanylate cyclase, the enzyme which produces cyclic GMP in the vascular smooth muscle cell, as well as investigations into other phosphodiesterase isoforms found in the neonatal pulmonary vasculature. Current lab members include Dr. Bernadette Chen a third-year Neonatology fellow at Children’s Memorial Hospital, and Beezly S. Groh, a research technologist. Within the CMRC, Dr. Farrow collaborates closely with Dr. Steinhorn, the division chief of Neonatology, Dr. Paul T. Schumacker, the research director for the division of Neonatology, Dr. Karen Mestan, and Dr. Stephen Wedgwood. Outside of CMRC, Dr. Farrow has ongoing collaborations with investigators at State University of New York at Buffalo, Vanderbilt University, Medical College of Georgia, University of Vermont, and University of Würzburg in Germany.

Lab Affiliations
Associate Member Molecular and Cellular Pathobiology
Curriculum Vitae
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Last Updated: Mar 2 2007 1:41PM

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