Pillar 3: Brain Barriers

Processes such as vascular pathologie, decreased cerebreal blood flow, reduced functionality of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), and decreased brain clearance can all lead to neurodegeneration and potentially to dementia. These processes can be investigated in a collective term, referred to as the "neurovascular unit", or NVU for short. The NVU consists of cells in the brain that interact with their cellular environment, as they regulate the homeostatic blood dynamics in the brains' blood supply. It plays an important role in neuronal activity that can be matched to cerebral blood flow. Maintaining and improving the NVU over a longer period of time provides new measures to reduce neurodegeneration. Currently, we do not have this knowledge about the NVU (yet); how these processes work, how we can measure them, and how we can detect them in patients. In this pillar, these goal are in the forefront, as we want to gain more knowledge about the NVU. Moreover, we want to focus on how to translate this knowledge to an applicable protocol or program, so it can be used as a diagnostic tool.

Within this pillar, we will tackle the Brain Barriers from a multidisciplinary approach, where a large team of excellent researchers will work on reaching our goals. In this approach, we will work with animal models, human models (in vitro), healthy volunteers, and patients with different pathological backgrounds, such as AD, cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), and patients with hypertension. 

Who are involved?

The main project leaders within this pillar are prof. Elga de Vries (Amsterdam UMC) and prof. Matthias (Thijs) van Osch (LUMC), as they work closely together with prof. Walter Backes (Maastricht UMC), dr. Erik Bakker (AUMC), dr. Elsmarieke Giessens (AUMC), prof. Ronald Boellaard (AUMC), dr. Jurgen Claassen (Radboud UMC), prof. Marcel Verbeek (Radboud UMC), dr. Natalia Petridou (UMC Utrecht), dr. ir. Louise van der Weerd (LUMC), prof. Marieke Wermer (LUMC), and dr. Jaco Zwanenburg (UMC Utrecht). Together, they will supervise PhD students, postdocs, and more (non-)scientific staff.

Read more about the partners here...