New methods for vascular research reduce number of experimental animals / Human umbilical cord cells mimic vessel walls
Professor Thomas Korff of the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology at Heidelberg University, Germany, was awarded the German Research Foundation (DFG)’s Ursula M. Händel Animal Welfare Prize on March 20, 2014, at a ceremony in Berlin.
The physiologist investigates the formation and remodeling of blood vessels and has developed methods that minimize the distress experienced by animals and reduce the number of test animals. In certain areas, animal experiments can be replaced completely.
Professor Korff plans to use the prize money in the amount of 100,000 euros to refine his methods and standardize them so that they can be introduced and applied in other research laboratories without a great deal of effort.
Blood vessels in the petri dish
The award winner and his group study the processes and mechanisms in blood vessels that underlie normal development as well as pathological remodeling processes associated with, e.g. atherosclerosis or varicose veins. In order to use human cells for his experiments to the greatest extent possible, Korff has developed special culture methods.
To this end, he cultivates spherical cellular aggregates from cells that are isolated from the blood vessels of human umbilical cord after birth. These cell masses mimic two layers of the vessel wall.
This model system for human blood vessels is not only well suited for basic research, but is now also being used in industrial applications. Scientists from Beiersdorf AG in Hamburg, Germany, are using the model system to test the protective effect of cosmetic substances on microscopic skin vessels. “Since we categorically excludeanimal testing, we use these kinds of realistic methods with human cells, which are especially significant for us,” said Dr. GittaNeufang, Head of Medical Management at Beiersdorf AG.
Test mice affected as little as possible
“However, cell cultures reach their limits for applications beyond cosmetics, for instance, if we want to find out how and why vessels undergo pathological changes,” Korff pointed out. In this case, it is not possible to avoid direct manipulations on animals, he clarified. “However, we have developed new surgical techniques that are much less stressful for the test animal than other proceduresused in vascular research.”
The new methods are easy to perform and mean less distress for the animals. “The animals behave normally and the success rate of the surgical procedures is higher. We need fewer animals for reliable results, which also reduces the costs,” he added.
For experiments on the living organism, the team often uses the ear of the mouse, in which the blood vessels are already clearly visible with the naked eye. The mouse ear is also easily accessible for many imaging techniquesand is suitable as a model for investigating many research questions. Without a single incision, for instance, a vein can be tied off in order to raise blood pressure in the afferent vessels.
In so doing, the formation of varicose veins can be simulated and their development observed over a period of several days. With this model, Korff investigates what signal pathways and molecules promote the pathological enlargement of the veins and whether certain substances can influence it. These kinds of studies are essential for identifying approaches for future therapeutic treatment.
In another project, the research group uses the mouse ear to investigate how tumors influence existing vessels or stimulate the formation of new vessels and, in so doing, can ensure their own blood supply. “Processes that are so complex can only be studied in live animals,” Korff explained.
Stretch-induced activation of the transcription factor activator protein-1 controls monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 expression during arteriogenesis. Demicheva E, Hecker M, Korff T. Circ Res. 2008 Aug 29;103(5):477-84.
Feldner A, Otto H, Rewerk S, Hecker M, Korff T. Experimental hypertension triggers varicosis-like maladaptive venous remodeling through activator protein-1. FASEB J. 2011 Oct;25(10):3613-21.
Navid F, Kolbe L, Stäb F, Korff T, Neufang G. UV-radiation induces the release of angiopoietin-2 from dermal microvascular endothelial cells. ExpDermatol. 2012 Feb;21(2):147-53.
More information is available on the Web:
Working group Professor Thomas Korff: http://www.medizinische-fakultaet-hd.uni-heidelberg.de/Gruppe-Korff.110926.0.htm...
Ursula M. Händel Animal Welfare Prize: www.dfg.de/haendel-preis
DFG press release: www.dfg.de/service/presse/pressemitteilungen/2014/pressemitteilung_nr_04/index.html
Contact for journalists:
Dr. Gerd König
Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology
Division of Cardiovascular Physiology
Tel. +49 6221 54-4067 or +49 1525 3502007
Heidelberg University Hospital and Medical Faculty:
Internationally recognized patient care, research, and teaching
Heidelberg University Hospital is one of the largest and most prestigious medical centers in Germany. The Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University belongs to the internationally most renowned biomedical research institutions in Europe. Both institutions have the common goal of developing new therapies and implementing them rapidly for patients. With about 11,000 employees, training and qualification is an important issue. Every year, around 118,000 patients are treated on an inpatient basis and around 1.000.000 cases on an outpatient basis in more than 50 clinics and departments with 2,200 beds. Currently, about 3,500 future physicians are studying in Heidelberg; the reform Heidelberg Curriculum Medicinale (HeiCuMed) is one of the top medical training programs in Germany.
Requests by journalists:
Dr. Annette Tuffs
Director, Corporate Communication/Public Relations
University Hospital and
Medical Faculty of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 672
phone: +49 6221 / 56 45 36
fax: +49 6221 / 56 45 44
Selected english press releases online:
Dr. Annette Tuffs | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Lasagni awarded with Materials Science and Technology Prize 2017
09.10.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS
Eduard Arzt receives highest award from German Materials Society
21.09.2017 | INM - Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...
Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.
Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy