Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of death worldwide.
Atherosclerotic plaque consists of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and macrophages in the malefactor lesion and are comprised of a lipid-laden core covered by a fibrous cap. Plaque rapture, due to weak caps, leads to thrombosis with dire consequences such as myocardial infarction and stroke. SMCs and macrophages are key players in this process.
Although extensive research has been done in the past on atherosclerosis, exactly how cells from normal blood vessel walls contribute to atherosclerotic plaques is still far from clear. Our studies aim to discover the origin of the cells that form healthy blood vessels, how these cells contribute to plaque formation and how these plaque cells can be manipulated to advantageously stabilise plaques to prevent rupture.