Lab Location: AKH, Level 8
Associated Clinical Department: Cardiac Surgery
Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm:
An ascending aortic aneurysm, usually asymptomatic, presents a high risk for aortic dissection and consequently a fatal outcome. The aortic extracellular matrix is remodelled via multifarious mechanisms induced by inflammatory cells leading to decreased arterial structural stability. Mononuclear phagocytes feature prominently in the expression of innate and adaptive immune response carrying out a central role in inflammation and regulation of metabolism in the infiltrated tissue. Our group is principally involved in the exploration of phagocytes infiltration and the mechanism of tissue-remodelling functions of these cells in aneurysm formation. Especially, we are investigating gene expression and protein expression profiles, which are restricted in low levels to few somatic tissues and can be re-activated in particular during disease progression. Moreover, these changes lead to genomic instability and play a role in causing chronic inflammation. Thus, the understanding and developing of new strategies, which target such re-activated genes, could provide useful therapeutic targets for a disease with no current pharmacological intervention.
Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury during organ transplantation:
Ischemia-reperfusion describes a condition during the procurement and transplantation process of an organ. Ischemia occurs while harvesting an organ and the loss of oxygenation, due the organ is transplanted, and reperfusion with oxygenated blood starts. Reperfusion exacerbates the initial ischemia-induced tissue injury by triggering adaptive and innate immune responses including inflammatory cell activation. The main goal of our group is to investigate the coherence between activated stress-gene expressions induced by ischemia-mediated DNA damage, and the suppression of DNA stabilization mechanism. Further, we investigate the infiltration of immune-regulating cells with tissue degradation enzyme ability, which may accelerate ischemia-reperfusion injury. We therefore aim to reveal new gene-expression as a new important factor and an attractive target to prevent the progression of ischemia-reperfusion injury in transplantation.
Immunosuppression in heart transplantation:
Malignancy is a major threat to the long-term survival of heart transplant patients. Compared to the general population heart transplant patients have a 100 fold greater risk of developing specific types of tumors. Its occurrence is favored by immunosuppression therapy, which prevents acute and long-term rejection. We currently investigate whether impact has individual immunosuppression therapies on the human immune cells with special focus on the long term effect on tumor development by degradation of immune response. We are closely monitoring cancer patients post organ transplantation and aim to characterize the mechanism that are involved in tumor progression caused by immunosuppression therapy.