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Vulnerable carotid plaques and ischemic stroke

In spite of decade-long intensive research in the field of cardiovascular disease the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms leading to the formation and progression of atherosclerosis has not yet completely elucidated.

In particular, the biological processes and factors responsible for vulnerable/unstable atherosclerotic plaques that in case of carotid arteries cause frequently ischemic stroke.

The aim of our experimental research is therefore a better understanding of the pathophysiological processes leading to plaque vulnerability in patients with high-grade carotid artery stenosis, in order to be able to develop novel and more reliable diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

We re using and analysing carotid plaques in different stages of atherosclerosis employing our Swiss Vascular Biobank (SVB) and Munich Vascular Biobank (MVB) in collaboration with the Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery of TU Munich (Prof Eckstein, Prof Maegdefessel). For these purposes, we apply the state-of-the-art molecular-biological techniques such as transcriptome and proteome analyses, focusing on epigenetic changes and non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs, circRNAs) in different stages of atherosclerosis. These results are validated by standard methods such as immunohistochemistry, qRT-PCR, western blotting and others.