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Wim Martinet

  • Research Expertise:Research in the Laboratory of Physiopharmacology is focusing on the morphological and haemodynamic changes that occur during the development and rupture of atherosclerotic plaques. Various experimental models have been established in rabbits and in genetically modified mice. In this light, it is important to note that we developed (and validated) a unique model of atherosclerotic plaque rupture in mice with clinical end points such as stroke, myocardial infarction and sudden death. Access to human vascular material allows validation and extrapolation of the data obtained in animal experiments. Using immunohistochemical and molecular biology techniques, the role of apoptosis, necrosis, autophagy as well as intra-plaque angiogenesis in the vulnerability of the atherosclerotic plaque is extensively studied. Functional alterations of endothelial and smooth muscle cells in atherosclerotic blood vessels are investigated in isolated cells, vascular ring segments and with electrophysiological techniques. Pharmacological manipulation of the above mentioned parameters, including the study of potential plaque stabilizing therapies, is also performed. Finally, we investigate arterial stiffening as a common pathophysiological mechanism in cardiac and kidney failure and brain degeneration. Overall, this multidisciplinary approach might result in a better understanding of the various factors involved in the etiopathogenesis and clinical consequences of atherosclerosis and might result in new therapeutic interventions. Major scientific achievements • Unravelling mechanisms of apoptosis in atherosclerosis • Development of strategies for the selective clearance of macrophages in atherosclerotic plaques via drug-induced cell death as a novel approach for plaque stabilization • Insights into the role of autophagy in atherosclerosis • Development of a mouse model of atherosclerotic plaque rupture • Pharmacological modulation of autophagy in atherosclerosis.
  • Disciplines:Cardiac and vascular medicine, Drug discovery and development, Pharmacology, Pharmacotherapy
  • Research techniques:Molecular biology, cell culture, histology and immunohistochemistry, detection of cell death
  • Users of research expertise:Academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies working in the field of vascular biology and cell death