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Department of Behavioral Health & Nutrition




Faculty & Staff


Giving Opportunities


Broadly, our research group seeks to understand the role of nutrition in cardiovascular disease.  Cardiovascular diseases account for more deaths in the U.S. than any other chronic disease.  The American Heart Association (AHA) has identified 7 health metrics important to achieving ideal “cardiovascular health” and a healthy dietary pattern is among those.  Specifically, the AHA lists a higher sodium intake and lower potassium intake as dietary risk factors for CVD.   In particular, our interest lies in studying the effect of dietary sodium and potassium intake on vascular function.

Research has shown that a diet high in sodium and low in potassium increases an individuals’ risk for hypertension.  Additionally, research has shown that high dietary sodium can cause vascular dysfunction independent of changes in blood pressure suggesting that damage to the endothelium precedes changes in blood pressure.  This damage can lead to atherosclerosis.  While potassium’s blood pressure lowering effect is known, it is unclear what role potassium may play on the vasculature.  Therefore, we are examining the interaction between these two nutrients.


Vascular Effects of Dietary Potassium in Humans
We will utilize a controlled dietary approach to study the effect of altering sodium and potassium intake on vascular function in healthy, salt-resistant adults.  We use brachial artery flow-mediated dilation to assess conduit artery function and cutaneous vasodilation in response to local heating to assess microvascular function.

The Role of Dietary Counseling on Salt consumption and Vascular Function
The goal of this pilot project is to determine if dietary counseling aimed at lowering habitual sodium intake to recommended guidelines of 100 mmol/day in high salt consumers can improve vascular function.

Vascular Effects of Dietary Salt in Humans with Salt-Resistant BP
In collaboration with Dr. Bill Farquhar and Dr. Dave Edwards, we are exploring the effects of dietary salt on vascular function. Our hypothesis is that excess dietary salt adversely affects vascular function, independent of blood pressure.

The Role of Sodium and Exercise on Vascular Function
The goal of this project is to determine whether exercise can protect the vasculature from the effects of a high sodium diet utilizing a rodent model. 

Energy Balance and Clinical Outcomes in Obese, Mechanically Ventilated ICU Patients
The goal of this study is to determine the association between energy intake (via tube feeding) and physiology markers in obese, mechanically ventilated patients.  Our long-term goal is to use nutrition therapy to modulate the effects of inflammatory markers and improve outcomes for this patient population.


Role: Principal Investigator on pilot project
Title: “Vascular Effects of Dietary Potassium in Humans”
Project Period: 9/1/2014-8/31/2016

1 R01 HL104106-01A1                                                             
Title: Vascular Effects of Dietary Salt in Humans with Salt-Resistant BP                             
Role: Co-Investigator
Project Period: 9/1/2011- 6/30/2015

DE-CTR ACCEL Pilot Project Grant
Role: Co-investigator
Title: Energy Balance and Clinical Outcomes of Obese, Mechanically Ventilated Patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
Project Period: 12/1/14-12/1/15


PI: Shannon Lennon-Edwards, PhD, RD
Assistant Professor  

John Guers, MS
Doctoral student, Applied Physiology Program  

Beth Nachman, BS
Master’s student, Human Nutrition Program  

Karen Solecki, BS, RD
Master’s student, Human Nutrition Program  

Amanda Dell

Dietetics Program

Kelly Gankos

Undergraduate, Exercise
Secience Program


Lennon-Edwards S., T. Schellhardt, and J. M. Kuczmarski. Antioxidant defense is increased in aged hearts following omega-3 supplementation in the absence of changes in inflammation. Physiol Res. 2014 Dec 22 [Epub]

Kirkman, D.L., S. Lennon-Edwards, and D.G. Edwards.  Patient Education. The importance of exercise for chronic kidney disease patients.  J Ren Nutr. 2014 Nov;24(6):e51-3.

Kuczmarski, J.M., C.R. Martens, J. Kim, S.L. Lennon-Edwards, and D.G. Edwards.  Cardiac function is preserved following 4 weeks of voluntary wheel running in a rodent model of chronic kidney disease.  J Apply Physiol 2014 Sept 1;117(5):482-91.

Kirkman, D.L., D.G. Edwards, and S. Lennon-Edwards.  Exercise as an adjunct therapy in chronic kidney disease. Renal Nutrition Forum. 2014;33(4)1-8.

Lennon-Edwards S., M. Ramick, E.L. Matthews, M. Brian, W.B. Farquhar, and D.G. Edwards.  Salt loading has a more deleterious effect on flow-mediated dilation in salt-resistant men than women. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 Sept;24(9):990-5.

Martens, C.R., J.M. Kuczmarski, J. Kim, J.J. Guers, M.B. Harris, S. Lennon-Edwards, and D.G. Edwards.  Voluntary wheel running augments aortic L-arginine transport and endothelial function in rats with chronic kidney disease.  Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2014 Aug 15;307(4)F418-26.

Lennon-Edwards S., B.R. Allman, T.A. Schellhardt, C.R. Ferreria, W.B. Farquhar, and D.G. Edwards. Lower potassium intake is associated with increased wave reflection in young healthy adults. Nutr J. 2014 Apr 28;13(1)39.

Martens, C.R., J.M. Kuczmarski, S. Lennon-Edwards, and D.G. Edwards.  Impaired L-arginine uptake but not arginase contributes to endothelial dysfunction in rats with chronic kidney disease.  J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2014 Jan;63(1);40-8.

Kuczmarski J.M., C.R. Martens, S. Lennon-Edwards, and D.G. Edwards.   Cardiac function and tolerance to Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury in chronic kidney disease. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2014 Aug;29(8):1514-24.

Lennon-Edwards, S. and W.B. Farquhar.  'Cold as ice', why do old coronary arteries pay the price? J Physiol. 2013 Jun 1;591(Pt 11):2775-6.

DuPont, J.J., Greaney, J. L., M.M. Wenner, S. Lennon-Edwards, P.W. Sanders, W.B. Farquhar, and D.G. Edwards.  Dietary sodium loading impairs endothelium-dependent dilation in salt-resistant humans. J Hypertens. 2013 Mar;31(3):530-6.

Greaney, J.L , J.J. DuPont, S. Lennon-Edwards, P.W. Sanders, D.G. Edwards, and W.B. Farquhar.  Acute dietary sodium loading impairs cutaneous microvascular function independent of blood pressure in humans: role of oxidative stress. J Physiol. 2012 Nov 1;590(Pt 21):5519-28.

Dirks-Naylor AJ, and S. Lennon-Edwards. The effects of Vitamin D on skeletal muscle function and cellular signaling.  J Steroid Biochem. 125(3-5):159-68, 2011.
Dirks-Naylor AJ, and S. Lennon-Edwards.  Cellular and molecular mechanisms of apoptosis in age-related muscle atrophy.  Current Aging Science. 4(3): 269-278, 2011.

  • College of Health Sciences  •  Department of Behavioral Health & Nutrition  •  26 Carpenter Sports Building 
    Newark, DE 19716 •   Phone: 302-831-2079   •  Fax: 302-831-4261   •  © 2014
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