Aortic diseases are a rising problem in the elderly. Although abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and aortic dissection (AD) are severe diseases which cause significant morbidity their pathophysiology and potential therapies are yet to be understood.

Our group seeks to explore the pathophysiology of these diseases. Further, we are particularly interested to obtain mechanistic insights on how established risk factors contribute to the pathogenesis. While addressing a wide range of research hypotheses, the group is also engaged in testing innovative therapies and diagnostic approaches. A profound network of national and international collaborators forms the basis which allows for a continuous scientific exchange and enables us to expand our specific understanding for these diseases. The overall aim is translating our findings from bench to bedside.

AAA disease is characterized by a progressive degradation of the aortic wall. To this end, the Fragmentation of elastin membranes through transcriptional up-regulation (Right upper row, red fluorescence) and enhanced enzymatic activity (Right lower row, green-blue fluorescence) of matrix-metalloproteinases (MMP) causes aortic stiffening which in turn promotes Diameter Progression. This process is triggered by a chronic Inflammation which is aggravated during nicotine exposure. The majority of AAA Harbors and intraluminal Thrombus (ILT) which is involved in various biomechanical and biochemical aspects.

AD entails the laceration of the aortic wall following an intimomedial tear of the innermost endothelial cell barrier. Adherens junctions (left, yellow fluorescence) form intercellular protein complexes and mediate mechanical adhesion. These junctions are down-regulated by nicotine and angiotensin II (hypertension). Following an intimomedial tear, patients are at risk to develop a dissecting aneurysm with a significant risk of rupture at long-term. Non-coding RNAs (nc-RNA) are powerful intracellular transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulators and are of particular interest for our group.

MD candidate (basic translation research):

cand. med. Verena von Berg - antiinflammatory therapy in AAA

MD candidate (clinical trial):

cand. med. Laura Costanza – fEVAR/bEVAR outcome

cand. med. Franziska Garcon – disease-specific aortic geometry

cand. med. Justus Sehl - The intraluminal thrombus in AAA

master students:

Lisa Mokros B. Sc. - Exosomes in AAA

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