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Vascular inflammation & Platelets

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Vascular inflammation is critical for several acute and chronic cardiovascular and also rheumatic or infectious diseases. Platelets and leukocytes promote pathophysiology of vascular inflammation and thereby contribute to the progression and severity of inflammation driven cardiovascular diseases. Our lab investigates different aspects of vascular inflammation and focuses on the role of platelets and leukocytes in inflammatory cardiovascular conditions.

We are particularly interested in The impact of microparticles on vascular inflammation and coagulation and The anti-inflammatory effects of anti-platelet drugs.

The impact of microparticles on vascular inflammation and coagulation.

Microparticles are small cell vesicles (Ø <1.5 μm) that are released into circulation during cellular activation from different blood cells (e.g. platelets, leukocytes or endothelial cells). Microparticles contain cytoplasma, cell organelles and surface receptors from their maternal cells. Recent data have shown that circulating microparticles bind to and fuse with different target cells, such as endothelial cells, thereby promoting an inflammatory phenotype of the target cells. Hence, microparticles function as inflammatory, paracrine biovectors in circulation.

MP of leukocyte origins

MP of leukocyte origins (stained with a green fluorochrome) attach to human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).

Our lab has shown that different microparticle subtypes can be used as inflammatory and coagulatory surrogate markers in different cardiocirculatory diseases, such as aortic valve stenosis or pulmonary hypertension. We additionally showed that microparticles induce destinct inflammatory phenotypes in their target cells, thereby promoting acute and chronic vascular inflammation.

In current research projects, we investigate different cellular mechanisms determining how microparticles induce inflammation in their target cells. We are particularly interested in the role of cardiomyocytes in systemic inflammation. This is why several our studies rely on isolated cardiomyocytes. 

The anti-inflammatory effect of anti-platelet drugs

Platelet activation is a major phenomenon in several cardiovascular diseases often leading to intravascular clot formation and ischemic complications, such as myocardial infarction or ischemic stroke. Thus, anti-platelet drugs, such as acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin®) or P2Y12 blockers, are often prescribed to patients with atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease (CAD). Over the last decades it has been shown that anti-platelet drugs not only inhibit platelet clot formation but also reduce vascular inflammation.

Platelets

Platelets (black arrow) attach and activate circulating leukocytes leading to vascular inflammation, which is the underlying entity of several cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary artery disease.

In our lab, we investigate the impact of different anti-platelet drugs on platelet function and vascular inflammation. We will assess how different inflammatory, cardiovascular diseases are promoted by platelets and platelet leukocyte-interplay.