Dr. Coral Murrant

A photograph of Dr. Coral Murrant.
Professor and Chair
Phone number: 
ext. 56173 (Office), ext. 56098 (Lab)
ANNU 350
ANNU 201

It was the incredible faculty in the Human Biology Department at the U of G back in the late 80’s that first got me all fired up as an undergraduate about skeletal muscle metabolism, fatigue and blood flow. I was fortunate to have this fire fuelled by working with Dr. Jack Barclay as an undergraduate and even more fortunate to be able to do my PhD under his supervision. Here we began to develop models of how the vasculature and the skeletal muscle cells relate in order to ensure that adequate blood flow is delivered to active skeletal muscle. I continued this work as I moved to Houston, Texas to do a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Michael Reid at Baylor College of Medicine to study skeletal muscle function and free radicals. After learning much about skeletal muscle function I realized that I needed to understand more about blood flow and the microcirculation in order to more holistically understand how skeletal muscle works. I looked for postdoctoral fellowships in the microcirculation world and was incredibly fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Ingrid Sarelius in Rochester, New York at the University of Rochester. It was here that we began to combine thinking regarding the relationships between skeletal muscle cells and the cells of the microvasculature, endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells. We began to attack questions surrounding the issue of how skeletal muscle cells communicate to endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells in order to ensure adequate blood flow to working or contracting skeletal muscle cells at the microscopic level. I came to the U of G in the fall of 2000 and have been continuing work in this area.

My work is funded by NSERC. I currently have memberships in the American Physiological Society and the Microcirculatory Society.

B.Sc. - University of Guelph
Ph.D. - University of Guelph

My main research focus centres around the issue of how contracting skeletal muscle can communicate with blood vessels in order to ensure adequate blood flow to the working skeletal muscle cells. There is a direct relationship between skeletal muscle metabolic rate and blood flow. This type of relationship requires that active skeletal muscle cells communicate their need for blood flow to the cells of the vasculature, endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells, and that these cells alter their function in order to ensure the proper blood flow delivery. I am interested in this intercellular communication. The current thinking is that skeletal muscle cells release vasodilatory products which are end products of metabolism, and these products diffuse to effect the vasculature. Currently we are testing this hypothesis by contracting the skeletal muscle in various ways as to change its metabolism and determining how the different metabolic rates alter the microvasculature. We are also testing for what these specific diffusable products are and how they alter endothelial cell or vasculature smooth muscle cell function.

After working with Dr. Sarelius I have developed a keen general interest in the microvasculature of other tissue beds. This has lead to a variety of formal collaborations. I am part of a large NSERC/CIHR collaborative grant headed by Dr. Anne Croy at the Queens University where our part of the study is to characterize the nature of spiral artery function in pregnant females. Proper spiral artery function is necessary for healthy development and growth of the fetus as well as the health of the mother. Spiral artery dysfunction has been linked to pre-eclampsia and premature births. I also collaborate with Dr. Pat Wright in Zoology looking at the microcirculation of fish to understand how a certain species of fish can survive out of water for up to 30 days. So, basically, if it has a circulation I am interested in studying it!!!

Prostaglandins induce vasodilation of the microvasculature during muscle contraction and induced vasodilation independent of adenosine. Murrant CL, Dodd JD, Foster AJ, Inch KA, Muckle FR, Ruiz DA, Simpson JA, Scholl JH. J Physiol. 2014; 592(Pt 6):1267-81.

Gestational modification of murine spiral arteries does not reduce their drug-induced vasoconstrictive responses in vivo. Leonard S, Lima PD, Croy BA, Murrant CL. Biol Reprod. 2013; 89(6):139.

Relaxin induces rapid, transient vasodilation in the microcirculation of hamster skeletal muscle. Willcox JM, Summerlee AJ, Murrant CL. J Endocrinol. 2013; 218(2):179-91.

Extracellular adenosine initiates rapid arteriolar vasodilation induced by a single skeletal muscle contraction in hamster cremaster muscle. Ross GA, Mihok ML, Murrant CL. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2013; 208(1):74-87.

Functional coordination of the spread of vasodilations through skeletal muscle microvasculature: implications for blood flow control. Twynstra J, Ruiz DA, Murrant CL. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2012; 206(4):229-41.

Cutaneous vasoregulation during short- and long-term aerial acclimation in the amphibious mangrove rivulus, Kryptolebias marmoratus. Cooper CA, Litwiller SL, Murrant CL, Wright PA. Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2012; 161(3):268-74.

Arteriolar reactivity in lymphocyte-deficient mice. Leonard S, Croy BA, Murrant CL. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011; 301(4):H1276-85.

Uterine NK cells, spiral artery modification and the regulation of blood pressure during mouse pregnancy. Burke SD, Barrette VF, Gravel J, Carter AL, Hatta K, Zhang J, Chen Z, Leno-Durán E, Bianco J, Leonard S, Murrant C, Adams MA, Croy BA. Am J Reprod Immunol. 2010; 63(6):472-81.

Skeletal muscle contraction-induced vasodilator complement production is dependent on stimulus and contraction frequency. Dua AK, Dua N, Murrant CL. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2009; 297(1):H433-42. 

Structural and functional limitations of the collateral circulation in peripheral artery disease. Murrant CL. J Physiol. 2008; 586(Pt 24):5845. 

Uterine NK cells in murine pregnancy. Bilinski MJ, Thorne JG, Oh MJ, Leonard S, Murrant C, Tayade C, Croy BA. Reprod Biomed Online. 2008; 16(2):218-26.

Armstrong ML, Dua AK, Murrant CL. Potassium initiates vasodilatation induced by a single skeletal muscle contraction in hamster cremaster muscle. J Physiol. 2007; 581(Pt 2):841-852.

Armstrong ML, Dua AK, Murrant CL. Time course of vasodilation at the onset of repetitive skeletal muscle contractions. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007; 292(1):R505-15.

Murrant CL. Creative teaching assistant organization to maintain an integrative physiology course with 440 students. Am J Physiol. Advances in Physiology Education. 2007; 31:180-185.

Leonard S, Murrant C, Tayade C, van den Heuvel M, Watering R, Croy BA. Mechanisms regulating immune cell contributions to spiral artery modification - facts and hypotheses. Placenta. 2006; 27 Suppl A:S40-6.

HK*3810 Human Physiology II – Integrated Systems Physiology

Name Role
Charter, M. PhD Student
Fletcher, N. PhD Student
Hyde-Lay, B. MSc Student