A transient loss of blood supply of an organ or tissue - an ischemia - is a situation which is encountered often in clinical situations. In surgery the ischemia is necessary to prevent blood loss during an operation, in transplantation the organ is exposed to ischemia from the moment it is procured from the donor until it is connected to the recipient's blood circulation, and in myocardial, cerebral or peripheral infarction a thrombus is blocking the blood supply to the respective tissue until the clogged artery is reopened by medical intervention. During the ischemia subtle changes occur on the inner surface - the endothelium - of the ischemic blood vessels which lead to vascular and tissue injury upon reperfusion with blood. While this reperfusion is crucial to safe the transiently ischemic tissue or organ, the tissue damage after reperfusion is larger than it was immediately before. This phenomenon is called ischemia/reperfusion (I/ R) injury and one of the main research areas of our group.
We are interested in understanding the mechanisms of I/R injury in, in particular the role of the glycocalyx, the natural anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory surface layer of the endothelium, and the complement system. By testing and developing complement inhibitors, glycosaminoglycan-analogs and other endothelial protective substances in a number of different in vitro and animal models we bring lab- knowhow nearer to clinical application with the ultimate goal of preventing I/R injury in clinical practice.
As a DCR research group we provide both infrastructural and scientific support to other teams working in the field of cardiovascular research in a broad sense, including the research groups of plastic- and hand surgery, cardiology, angiology, cardiovascular surgery and pneumology.
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