Gating endothelial cell behaviours in vascular health and disease


  • Prof Christiana Ruhrberg

    University College London

Project summary

Blood vessels consist of an outer protective coat, composed of muscle-like cells and fibrous substances, as well as an inner lining that is formed by endothelial cells (ECs). In healthy vessels, ECs provide a thin and smooth surface that facilitates the exchange of gases, molecules and cells between blood and tissues. However, ECs can also respond to signals from oxygen-starved tissues to expand the vessel network or promote inflammation for tissue repair and to help fight infections. These processes are perturbed in diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetic eye disease.;

We will investigate how the cell surface molecule neuropilin 1 (NRP1) integrates signals from the environment to alter the expression of genes that balance EC behaviours important for vascular growth and at the same time prevents the poor function of ECs that is common to inflammatory diseases.

The findings will significantly advance our understanding of normal EC behaviour in the healthy body and uncover factors that can be targeted for therapeutic intervention in diseases with blood vessel dysfunction.