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Marva Sweeney-Nixon

My major research interest is ‘nutrisciences and health’, evaluating the health benefits of foods (berries) and various bioactive compounds on cardiovascular diseases, the number one killer of Canadians. Specifically, I investigate effects of flavonoids from blueberries and cranberries on the risk and severity of stroke, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and insulin resistance, using cells, animals or human models of disease. These disorders all involve oxidative stress and/or inflammation to some degree, as part of their pathology and so a central hypothesis of my research is that flavonoids from blueberries and cranberries will mitigate the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation.

Associate Professor
(902) 566-0633
Research Interests: 
  • cardiovascular diseases; hypertension; atherosclerosis; diabetes; renal disease.
  • stroke and neurodegenerative diseases; different forms of cell death; neuroprotection
  • oxidative stress and inflammation; antioxidants.
  • Vaccinium berries (blueberries, cranberries)
  • animal models of diseases; animal tissue culture

Select Citations :

Juurlink B.H.J. and Sweeney M.I.. Mechanisms that result in damage during and following cerebral ischemia. Neurosci. Biobehav. 21: 121-128, 1998.

Sweeney M.I., Kalt W., MacKinnon S.L., Ashby J. and Gottschall-Pass K.T. Feeding of diets enriched in lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) for six weeks decreases stroke severity in rats. Nutritional Neuroscience 5: 427-431, 2002.

Matchett, M.D., MacKinnon, S.L., Sweeney, M.I., Gottschall-Pass, K.T., and Hurta, R.A.R. Blueberry flavonoids inhibit matrix metalloproteinase activity in DU145 human prostate cancer cells. Biochem Cell Biol. 83: 637-643, 2005.

Neto, C. C., Sweeney-Nixon, M. I., Lamoureaux, T. L., Soloman, F, Kondo, M., MacKinnon, S. L. Cranberry phenolics: Effects on oxidative processes, neuron cell death and tumor cell growth. In Phenolic Compounds in Foods and Natural Health Products, American Chemical Society Symposium Series 909 (Shahidi F. and Ho C.-T., eds), pp. 271-282, 2005.

Sweeney, M.I. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces simulated ischemic stroke damage and increases brain antioxidant status in rats. In "Pomegranate: Ancient Roots to Modern Medicine", (N. Seeram, R. Schulman and D. Heber, eds.), CRC Press, pp. 91-106, 2006.

Slemmer J.E.., Shacka, J.J., Sweeney, M.I. and Weber, J.T. Antioxidants and free radical scavengers for the treatment of stroke, traumatic brain injury and aging. Curr. Med. Chem. 15 (4): 404 - 414, 2008.

Shaughnessy K.S., Boswall, I.A., Scanlan A.P., Gottschall-Pass K.T. and Sweeney, M. I.. Diets containing blueberry extract lower blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive stroke-prone rat. Nutr. Res. 29: 130-138, 2009.

Current Collaborators (non-UPEI): 

* Dr. S. MacKinnon, Institute for Marine Biosciences, NRC, Halifax NS.

* Dr. W. Kalt, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, Kentville, NS.

* Dr. C. Neto, Dept of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Massachussetts, Dartmouth Ma, USA

*Dr. L. Gabor, Regional Vet lab, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Camden, Australia