ATTRACT: Arterial flow as attractor for endothelial cell migration

European Coordinator:
  • Holger GERHARDT, Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association, Berlin (Germany)
North American Coordinator:
  • Douglas MARCHUK, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC (USA)
  • Miguel BERNABEU, The University of Edinburg (UK)
  • Lena CLAESSON-WELSH, Uppsala University (Sweden)
  • Anne EICHMANN, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven (USA)
  • Claudio FRANCO, Instittuto de Medicina Molecular, Lisbon (Portugal)
  • Paul OH, University of Florida, Gainsville (USA)

The cells that form the inner lining of arteries are called endothelial cells. It was once thought that endothelial cells were an immobile interface between the blood flowing past them and the tissues which are perfused with oxygen. However, recent discoveries by this network’s members have shown that endothelial cells can change position within an artery, and that they actually have been observed to migrate in the opposite direction of blood flow. This finding has led researchers in this network to examine whether this endothelial cell migration plays a role in the normal development of blood vessels. In addition, they hope to understand how endothelial cell migration may play a role in disease. In vascular disease such as stroke and coronary artery disease, the atherosclerotic process disrupts the endothelial layer and changes the pattern of the cells’ migration. This TNE will investigate the principles of normal arterial function and the how endothelial cell movement and repair are maladaptive after a stroke. They hope to learn how to harness the beneficial movement of the endothelial cells so that patients with neurovascular disease have better outcomes, and abnormal vascular connections are avoided.