Johanna Magga

Johanna Magga

PhD (Pharm)

Academy Research Fellow
Pharmacology and toxicology


I am a pharmacist, received my PhD degree in pharmacology and carried out post doctoral studies on neurodegenerative diseases. Currently I work as an Academy Research Fellow in Research unit of Biomedicine at University of Oulu. My current research interests include cardiovascular pharmacology and mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases.

Research interests

  • cardiovascular diseases
  • cardiovascular pharmacology

Growth factor signaling in myocardial stress and fibrosis

Endothelial dysfunction, abnormal extracellular matrix production and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy are key elements of cardiovascular diseases, leading to impairment of left ventricular function. Sustained external load, in conditions such as hypertension, myocardial infarction or valvular disease, can evolve to a state of decompensated hypertrophy in a complicated progressive process known as myocardial remodeling. Remodeling involves rearrangement of the cardiomyocyte muscle fibers and alterations in cardiomyocyte metabolism, but also interstitial fibrosis, accumulation of extracellular matrix, and angiogenesis. Eventually, remodeling leads to heart failure. Non-muscle cells residing in the interstitium likely play important roles in both cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.

Our aim is to investigate how growth factors regulate cardiomyocytes and the contribution of non-muscle cells to remodeling process. Our specific interest focuses on the actions of activins, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP), and growth and differentiation factors (GDF), the members of the transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) family of secreted growth factors. The effect of these factors on endothelial function and parenchymal cell homeostasis in the diseased myocardium remain mostly unknown.

By utilizing genetic and pharmacological tools in experimental models, we aim to identify the downstream signaling mechanisms of growth factors during myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury and to investigate the role of growth factor signaling in development of cardiac hypertrophy, fibrosis and remodeling in the stressed myocardium. We also utilize human material to determine the role of these growth factors in cardiovascular diseases.


Selected publications

  • Renko, Outi; Tolonen, Anna-Maria; Rysä, Jaana; Magga, Johanna; Mustonen, Erja; Ruskoaho, Heikki; Serpi, Raisa (2018) SDF1 gradient associates with the distribution of c-Kit plus cardiac cells in the heart. - Scientific Reports 8, 1160 .
  • Perjés, Á.; Kilpiö, T.; Ulvila, J.; Magga, J.; Alakoski, T.; Szabó, Z.; Vainio, L.; Halmetoja, E.; Vuolteenaho, O.; Petäjä-Repo, U.; Szokodi, I.; Kerkelä, R. (2016) Characterization of apela, a novel endogenous ligand of apelin receptor, in the adult heart. - Basic reserach in cardiology 111 (1), 1-12, 2 . Original: [Original]
  • Tolonen, Anna-Maria; Magga, Johanna; Szabo, Zoltan; Viitala, Pirkko; Gao, Erhe; Moilanen, Anne-Mari; Ohukainen, Pauli; Vainio, Laura; Koch, Walter J.; Kerkelä, Risto; Ruskoaho, Heikki; Serpi, Raisa (2014) Inhibition of Let-7 microRNA attenuates myocardial remodeling and improves cardiac function postinfarction in mice. - Pharmacology Research & Perspectives 2 (4), e00056 . [Original]
  • Kaikkonen, Leena; Magga, Johanna; Ronkainen, Veli-Pekka; Koivisto, Elina; Perjes, Abel; Chuprun, J. Kurt; Vinge, Leif Erik; Kilpiö, Teemu; Aro, Jani; Ulvila, Johanna; Alakoski, Tarja; Bibb, James A.; Szokodi, Istvan; Koch, Walter J.; Ruskoaho, Heikki; Kerkelä, Risto (2014) p38 alpha regulates SERCA2a function. - Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology 67, 86-93
  • Szabo, Zoltan; Magga, Johanna; Alakoski, Tarja; Ulvila, Johanna; Piuhola, Jarkko; Vainio, Laura; Kivirikko, Kari I.; Vuolteenaho, Olli; Ruskoaho, Heikki; Lipson, Kenneth E.; Signore, Pierre; Kerkelä, Risto (2014) Connective tissue growth factor inhibition attenuates left ventricular remodeling and dysfunction in pressure overload-induced heart failure. - Hypertension 63 (6), 1235-1240 . [Original]
  • Kerkelä, Risto; Karsikas, Sara; Szabo, Zoltan; Serpi, Raisa; Magga, Johanna; Gao, Erhe; Alitalo, Kari; Anisimov, Andrey; Sormunen, Raija; Pietilä, Ilkka; Vainio, Laura; Koch, Walter J.; Kivirikko, Kari I.; Myllyharju, Johanna; Koivunen, Peppi (2013) Activation of hypoxia response in endothelial cells contributes to ischemic cardioprotection. - Molecular and cellular biology 33 (16), 3321-3329

Thesis supervisions

  • Co-supervised three PhD thesis (completed in 2012, 2012, 2015 at University of Eastern Finland)