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.