Cardiovascular Physiology

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in industrial nations of the west. In Germany, every second death is due to diseases such as myocardial infarction, heart failure or stroke. Because of our longer life expectancy, a further increase in cardiovascular diseases is to be expected. Myocardial infarction, heart failure and stroke are associated with insufficient supply of oxygen to tissues (hypoxia) and changes in the production of reactive oxygen species (redox status). When cells do not adapt to a low level of oxygen, or when the reactive oxygen species production ceases, cells die off.

Oxygen for the Cells

At the Institute for Cardiovascular Physiology we study the reaction of cells to hypoxia, focusing on the mechanisms and molecules involved in the hypoxic adaption reaction. The aim of our studies is to develop new treatment approaches for these diseases to protect cells from oxygen deficiency and thus avoid their eventual death. For our studies we use molecular and cell biological methods and have established methods for cell cultivation under controlled conditions of oxygen deficiency.

Redox and calcium balance

Altered calcium transport and changes in cellular redox status are connected to pathological processes of the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, these signal pathways are important regulators of monocytes, which are involved as immune cells in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. We aim to better understand these processes in order to be able to develop further therapeutic strategies. For this we have isolated and characterized new forms of the naturally occurring antioxidant coenzyme Q10. These newly identified hydroxal coenzyme Q10 derivates are potent antioxidants that regulate the transport of calcium through biological membranes. Future studies will investigate the therapeutic potential of forms of the hydroxyl coenzyme Q10 as well as the role of calcium and redox signals in cardiovascular diseases. Our scientific staff includes physicians and natural scientists. Medical students, students of the “Molecular Medicine” program as well as master’s students from the Cardiovascular Science program are involved in research projects early on in their training, which significantly broadens their scientific knowledge.

Prof. Dr. Dörthe M. Katschinski
Prof. Dr. Dörthe M. Katschinski
Director of the Department of Cardiovascular Physiology
+49 (0) 551 39-5896
Ulrike Fischer
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