VUmc- AMC Research on blood vessels

The Amsterdam research on blood vessels focuses on (i) the molecular mechanisms that control vascular permeability and (ii) the biomechanics that drive vascular function and remodeling, at the level of arteries, arterioles and veins as well as the level of endothelial and smooth muscle cells.  
In addition, there is much interest in the regulation of tissue perfusion, in particular in the context of inschemia-reperfusion injury associated with coronary artery disease and stroke as well as related to volemic shock and use of cardio-pulmonary bypass. Also the interaction of the immune system with the vascular wall and the molecular basis of pulmonary hypertension (i.e. at the level of lung endothelial cells) receive increasing attention.

Molecularly, our expertise is particularly strong in the area of (i) cadherin- and integrin-mediated cell adhesion and integrity of the endothelium; (ii) RhoGTPase-driven actin organization in endothelial and smooth muscle cells (iii) mechanosignaling by endothelial and SMC surface proteins and consequent intracellular signaling.

There is growing interest in the bidirectional crosstalk between muscle cells (both SMC and cardiomyocytes) and endothelial cells, which will be addressed using an advanced 3D microvessel model as well as in co-culture assays for endothelial electrical resistance and muscle cell contractility.  

3D vessel wall with endothelium (green) and smooth musle cells (red) 3D vessel wall with endothelium (green) and smooth musle cells (red)

We combine advanced biochemical and biophysical techniques with super-resolution (live cell) confocal imaging and use of advanced 3D microvessel models. In the latter, endothelial cells form microvessels (50-200 micron) in a collagen matrix, which also allows co-culture with muscle cells and pericytes. 
Clinically, this line of research is relevant to increase our insight in acute and chronic cardiac disease, pulmonary hypertension, vaso-occlusion-associated vascular damage and a range of inflammatory disorders, including atherosclerosis and chronic kidney disease.