AG Schwoerer

Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Schwoerer
Clinic/Institute: Institute of Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 59485

Research Focus and Main research questions

Ventricular unloading of failing hearts by implantable pump systems has become a successful therapeutic option in the treatment of patients with advanced heart failure. Most pump systems are currently implanted to bridge the waiting time for a heart transplant. Such a temporary support of the heart thus acutely enables the survival of the patient. Interestingly, a cellular remodelling process can also be initiated in certain patient collectives, which leads to a significant improvement in cardiac pump function. This has led to the development of a new clinical indication for the implantation of these pumps.

The underlying mechanisms are currently unclear. Surprisingly, mechanical unloading of healthy hearts induces very similar gene expression patterns as cardiac overload. A deviation of the actual cardiac workload from the "normal" workload thus seems to provoke common cellular responses regardless of the direction of the deviation.

  • Methods
  • Methods


    Our research group uses animal models to identify molecular mechanisms that ultimately underlie the beneficial effects of unloading therapy. In terms of cellular electrophysiology, we have already shown that mechanical unloading has identical consequences to mechanical overloading. We have also demonstrated that unloading causes changes in the cellular kinase-phosphatase balance that significantly alters the phosphorilation of central phospho-proteins. These findings have complex implications for cellular excitability and contractility. Translational and post-translational processes are also currently being investigated to identify the cellular regulators of cell growth.

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