Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the European Union. Despite more efficient strategies for the treatment of acute ischemic disease the proportion of chronic cardiovascular diseases, in particular heart failure, is increasing. Centrally involved in the cardiovascular system are endothelial cells. These cells form the inner layer of vascular vessels producing signalling molecules that regulate vascular tone, vascular inflammation, plaque formation and angiogenesis/neovascularisation. Endothelial activation is associated with pathogenic changes of the vessel wall and disease development such as artherosclerosis and heart failure. The mechanisms that contribute to activation of the endothelium and the development of endothelial dysfunction have been investigated in detail but the protective molecular mechanisms that maintain
the vasculature in a healthy state largely remain elusive. Moreover, it is unclear how cellular repair mechanisms can improve endothelial function and neovascularisation.
Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) 834 is a collaborative research centre funded by the German research foundation since January 2010. The consortium aims to identify the molecular mechanisms and cellular mediators that determine endothelial cell function and repair in a series of translational basic science and clinical projects.
Projects in part A “Endothelial Cell Signalling” focus on specific signalling molecules and molecular mechanisms that are necessary for the maintenance of endothelial function. The interaction between metabolism and endothelial cell function is of particular interest given the rapidly increasing incidence of diabetes and obesity. Investigation of the role of G-protein-coupled receptors, reactive oxygen species, as well as post-transcriptional regulation in endothelial cell function and neovascularisation in cell culture and in animal models is expected to provide new information and help to identify new potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
The projects in part B “Endothelial Function and Repair” are translational research projects that aim to elucidate the interaction between risk factors and endothelial function and to improve the treatment of cardiovascular disease as well as immunological diseases associated with an endothelial dysfunction. The investigation of the therapeutic potential of bone marrow derived cells, the effect that risk factors have on the function of these cells and the clarification of the mechanisms by which they protect the vasculature will be addressed in a significant subsection of these projects.
The second funding period started at the beginning of 2014.