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Spitzenmedizin mit Herz


Scientific mission

The Vascular Immunology Laboratory focuses on inflammatory and immune cell mechanisms in cardio-metabolic disease with a particular emphasis on atherosclerosis, adipose tissue inflammation, myocardial infarction, and immune cell trafficking. Atherosclerosis is the most life-threatening pathology worldwide. Its major clinical complications, stroke, myocardial infarction, and heart failure are on the rise in many regions of the world - despite considerable progress in understanding cause, progression, and consequences of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis was originally perceived as a lipid- storage disease of the arterial wall but research in the late 80s increasingly established that chronic inflammation in the vasculature critically drives and maintains cardiovascular disease. This inflammatory response involves the presence and accumulation of lymphocytes in the vessel wall that can trigger or inhibit inflammation. It got increasingly clear that lymphocytes and myeloid cells in the vessel wall respond to stimuli and antigens expressed or deposited in the vessel wall, such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Vascular immunology is the discipline to describe, understand, and modify the immune response in the vessel wall. Manipulating inflammation and immunity both holds promise for new therapeutic strategies in cardiovascular disease. Ongoing work also suggests that it may be possible to develop antigen-specific immunomodulatory prevention and therapy - a vaccine against atherosclerosis. We are dedicated to contributing to this emerging field and have established a variety of basic and specialized experimental methods, lab techniques, such as immune-cell phenotyping by FACS, time-of-flight mass cytometry (CyTOF), confocal and two-photon imaging, gene expression profiling (RNA-seq.), and various animal methods (intravital microscopy, adoptive transfers, atherosclerosis, adipose tissue inflammation, myocardial infarction, intimal hyper-proliferation, in vivo thrombosis), some of which are carried out in close collaboration with a network of atherosclerosis and immunology labs around the world. Besides, we are also employing various basic lab techniques (molecular biology, protein-biochemistry, and cell culture). Several MD-, Master-, and PhD students were trained in the laboratory since 2009.  

Immune cells are interaction in vessel wall: Two-photon microscopy of an explanted atherosclerotic aorta from an Apoe-knock out mouse that develops atherosclerosis when fed a high-cholesterol diet. In this mouse, antigen-presenting cells (APCs) are labeled with a blue fluorochrome (CD11c-YFP reporter). ApoB-specific T cells (red) are added and their infiltration into the tissue and their interaction with APCs was monitored over 12 hours.

Dr. Dennis Wolf

Lab:   +49761-270-70370
Klinik: +49761-270-34010