Studying cells in the aorta, towards a treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysm

Vascular smooth muscle cell location, function and phenotype in murine models of abdominal aortic aneurysm

Marc Bailey (lead researcher)

Leeds, University of

Start date: 04 September 2017 (Duration 3 years)

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a condition in which the main artery in the body balloons and eventually ruptures. There may be no warning that an aorta is about to rupture. A ruptured AAA is often fatal and the only treatment for a ballooning aorta is surgery, which also carries significant risks. AAA is most common in older men, so in the UK all men over 65 are invited to be screened for signs of the condition. What’s needed is a safe treatment that could be given to people to slow or stop an AAA from developing. This team are hoping to uncover clues that could take us one step towards that goal. Dr Bailey and his colleagues in Leeds will to look at vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in the artery wall during AAA. These cells normally give our blood vessels strength, but they change during the development of an AAA, and are weakened at the point where the aorta ruptures. The team will study the behaviour of VSMCs in mice as an AAA progresses. The mice are engineered to contain a special gene that causes VSMCs to fluoresce, or glow. Tracking the fluorescence in artery samples under the microscope will reveal the movement, appearance and disappearance of these cells during AAA. By understanding the processes underlying AAA progression, new ways of treating it may eventually be revealed.

Project details

Grant amount £205,957
Grant type Project Grant
Start Date 04 September 2017
Duration 3 years
Reference PG/17/7/32806
Status In progress

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