van Bavel E.T.: Vascular Biophysics

Project Details


I am coordinator of the FP7 European Union Research Training Network Small Artery Remodeling (‘SmArteR’, 2013-2017, Small arteries and arterioles form the major site of resistance for perfusion, and their function and structure are critical for tissue perfusion and regulation of blood pressure. The scientific objectives of SmArteR are 1) to better understand regulation of structure and function, with a focus on matrix and cell biology, mechanobiology and biomechanics; 2) to develop novel technology to study these blood vessels. This program should help early stage diagnosis and provide novel therapeutic options for adverse remodeling in among others hypertension.

We perform experimental work on vascular cognitive decline from two perspectives. In a first project, effects of micro-emboli on vascular and neuronal damage and repair are investigated. A second project addresses interstitial drainage and perivascular transport in relation to amyloid beta deposition. Experimental approaches include high resolution 3D imaging of vascular networks and transport processes, and rodent cranial window models.

We study structural changes of the vascular wall following sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, with purpose of understanding delayed cerebral ischemia. Experimental approaches include in vivo hemorrhage models and in vitro technology such as the cannulated vessel setup and so-called wire myograph.

Small arteries and arterioles form complex vascular networks. Regulation of arterial network structure and function is studied based on computer modeling, for the purpose of deciphering the critical vascular properties for control of perfusion. Input for such simulations is based on the large array of tests on individual vessels that we performed over the years, as well as on extensive datasets on vascular branching and (microsphere) flow that are being collected by the imaging cryomicrotome of Maria Siebes in our department.

In collaboration with the department of Radiology and funded from several sources, we established a research program on hemodynamic profiles in carotid and intracranial arteries, using novel phase contrast MRI approaches and computational techniques. The work aims to improve our understanding of the role of hemodynamics in vascular changes, and to provide tools for early diagnosis. Part of this work concerns risk of rupture models for intracranial aneurysms on the basis of local velocity and wall shear stress patterns. We also address wall shear stress in atherosclerosis. Furthermore we develop and validate new technology for cerebral perfusion based on ASL MRI. Also in collaboration with Radiology, we work on optimizing clinical image processing in among others stroke and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation.

We employ a range of techniques for vascular biophysics and physiology. These include chronic in vivo flow diversion models, in vivo microscopy and cranial window models, isometric and isobaric functional tests on small arteries. Our methods for keeping isolated perfused blood vessels in culture and study in vitro remodeling have formed the base of much of our success. Likewise, we developed methods for the time-lapsed multiposition imaging of cells interaction with their surrounding matrix, and combine a range of optical techniques (side stream dark field imaging, FRAP, optical tweezers, OCT velocimetry) with in vivo microvascular imaging.
Effective start/end date1/07/200631/05/2022