The human brain possesses unique blood vessels designed to maintain a constant supply of blood to highly perfused neuronal tissue. Impairment of brain blood flow causes strokes and plays a major role in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
The research group of Zvonimir S. Katusic, M.D., Ph.D., has a long history of studying human cerebral blood vessels. The group’s studies are performed on experimental models of stroke and Alzheimer's disease.
Projects are focused on morphological, functional and biochemical characteristics of cerebral vasculature. In addition, experiments on isolated blood vessels enable Dr. Katusic's team to directly test vascular effects of novel drugs.
Dr. Katusic's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, and a number of other funding agencies and organizations.
- Vascular endothelium. Endothelium is the inner lining of the blood vessel wall that is in direct contact with circulating blood. The strategic location of endothelial cells is of critical functional importance.
Injury to vascular endothelium, such as that induced by aging, high cholesterol, diabetes or hypertension, is considered a key initiating event in the development of atherosclerosis, leading to impairment of brain blood flow.
Dr. Katusic's studies are focused on understanding mechanisms responsible for normal endothelial function and repair of injured endothelium.
- Stroke. Preservation of healthy endothelium is of major importance in the prevention and treatment of stroke.
Dr. Katusic's team is interested in the development of optimal therapeutic interventions designed to exert a protective effect on vascular endothelium in the cerebral circulation.
- Alzheimer's disease. Evidence continues to substantiate the importance of healthy cerebral blood vessels in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease. Indeed, impaired endothelial function has a major detrimental effect on blood flow and cognitive function.
Dr. Katusic's research is designed to define mechanisms linking dysfunctional endothelium with progression of cognitive decline.
Significance to patient care
The recognition of endothelium in brain blood vessels as a major therapeutic target significantly advanced efforts to develop pharmacological therapies, as well as gene- and cell-based therapies.
Dr. Katusic's research will help to alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for patients with stroke and Alzheimer's disease.