Elga de Vries More on research

The neurovascular unit in health and disease 

A number of neurological diseases are marked by the occurrence of inflammatory and oxidative-stress related events in the vasculature of the central nervous system (CNS). The research of the De Vries group is therefore focussed on understanding how alterations at the neurovascular unit underlie neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative conditions to find novel ways to counteract these detrimental processes.
Pathological alterations in the integrity and function of the brain vasculature and its surrounding cell types are observed in a wide range of neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, brain cancer, and vascular dementia. Current research focuses on the alterations of the neurovascular unit  in MS and a form of dementia which is marked by amyloid deposits at the brain vasculature, capillary cerebral amyloid angiopathy (capCAA) and hoiw this affect brain homeostasis.

Current research topics include:

1. Understand how alterations of cellular communication at the neurovascular unit underlie pathology. Focus is on the interaction between activated astrocytes and brain endothelium and the identification of targets to restore miscommunication. Current, molecules and pathways of interest are sphingolipid metabolism and anti-inflammatory agents.
2. Define how cells of the immune system gain entry into the CNS during neuroinflammatory disorders, in particular in MS. Here we study the regulation of the molecular pathways in the brain endothelial cells upon the interaction with leukocytes that allow leukocytes to migrate into the brain and cause neurological damage. 
3. Identification of molecular switches that induce and regulate the barrier endothelial phenotype. By means of genomic and epigenetic approaches, new determinants of the blood-brain barrier phenotype are identified and functionally assessed for their capacity to induce barrier properties.
4. Counteract detrimental pathological effects at the level of oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and neurons (see research line dr Jack van Horssen). Specific focus here is on understanding the altered redox balance and mitochondrial function in MS and to find novel ways to counteract these processes.