My research focusses on how innate immunity, and more specifically the complement system, influences the development of cardiovascular disease.
Atherosclerosis and related cardiovascular disease are characterized by narrowing of the larger arteries, supplying oxygen rich blood to the body. Narrowing of these arteries usually is caused by fatty deposits: atherosclerotic plaques. In severely narrowed arteries, tiny pieces of plaque can break off and might end up in the heart or the brain, causing a myocardial infarction or stroke, respectively. This might result in death, but especially in those who survive heart failure in case of a myocardial infarction or chronic disability in case of stroke illustrate the large consequences for these patients.
Cardiovascular disease is characterized by chronic inflammation, as indicated by the presence of a variety of immune cells in, or nearby, the atherosclerotic plaque or affected area. In this respect complement mediated inflammation is a very interesting research area and treatment target. Hence, I investigate in my postdoc project the role the complement system and toll-like receptors play in the development of carotid atherosclerosis and stroke, by using 1) various materials from carotid atherosclerotic patient populations and 2) different experimental models.