The cardiovascular system consists of a branched network of cellular tubes (blood and lymphatic vessels) with a central pump (the heart, see image above). The vessels that form the body’s vasculature exist in different sizes and morphologies. Shown in the image above are arterial vessels (red), which transport oxygen-rich blood from the heart to tissues, and venous vessels (blue), which transport deoxygenated blood back to the heart. A third type, lymphatic vessels (green), transport extracellular fluid and immune cells from tissues, as well as lipoproteins from food, to the circulatory system.
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Approximately 17.5 million people die worldwide of cardiovascular disease (CVD) each year. According to the World Health Organization, this makes CVD the number one cause of death in Industrialized Nations. The most dangerous forms of CVD, myocardial infarction and stroke, are often the result of arterial stenosis followed by occlusion of the vessel. During occlusion, the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to a tissue (such as the heart or brain) is significantly decreased, which in turn inhibits tissue metabolism and results in cell death. Poorly-controlled diabetes mellitus is a common risk factor to trigger life-threatening CVD and worsens the chance to recover.
In collaboration with the Department of Cardiology, Pneumology and Angiology, we investigate how arteries grow during development and as alternative routes for the blood stream to prevent an infarction. We also investigate lymphatic vessels, which play a key role in lipid transport and obesity. Similarly, the lymphatic system removes the excess fluid and debris post-metabolism to maintain tissue homeostasis, a process that can be compromised during CVD by the formation of edema.
Our work takes place as a part of two research consortia at Heinrich-Heine-University: the Collaborative Research Consortium 1116 “Master Switches in Cardiac Ischemia" and the International Research Training Group 1902 "Intra- and Inter-Organ Communication in the Cardiovascular System"
Strilic B, Kucera T and Lammert E. Formation of cardiovascular tubes in invertebrates and vertebrates, Cell Mol Life Sci 2010
Planas Paz L and Lammert E. Mechanical forces in lymphatic vascular development and disease. Cell Mol Life Sci 2013
World Health Organisation (WHO) Fact sheet No 371 on Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs)