Bruxelles Woluwe



Clinical importance

The importance of cardiovascular disease in terms of public health is well established. Indeed cardiovascular diseases, mainly following atherosclerosis, are responsible for about 50% of deaths in western countries. Therefore, a better understanding of their pathophysiology and treatment is fundamental.

Cardiovascular research within IREC

The Institute of Clinical and Experimental Research (IREC) at UCL has an expertise in the translational research of cardiovascular pathologies from a clinical and fundamental point of view (from bench to bedside).

Two research poles are mainly involved in this thematic: the Cardiovascular Research Center (or CARD) and the Pharmacology and Therapeutics (or FATH). The cardiovascular thematic is leaded by principal investigators who are qualified researchers of the FNRS, cardiologists and cardiac surgeons.

Research axes

The main areas of our researches in the cardiovascular thematic are described below and are developed in close collaboration with the two poles involved.

  • The first area of our researches aims a better understanding of the pathophysiology of the ventricular remodeling, mainly in pathological conditions, leading to the development of heart failure. The molecular mechanisms underlying the hypertrophy, fibrosis and vascularization during remodeling are studied with a particular attention to the beta-adrenergic signaling (beta3 adrenergic) and the signaling pathway of AMP-activated protein kinase or AMPK (Professors JL Balligand, Ch. Dessy, S. Horman and L. Bertrand)
  • The second area of our researches evaluates the importance of the metabolism in the control of the cellular functions and in the physiopathology of cardiovascular diseases, such as diabetic cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic remodeling or atherothrombosis (Professor C. Beauloye, S. Horman and L. Bertrand)
  • The third area of ​​ our researches is the noninvasive cardiac imaging (echocardiography and MRI) with the assessment of the left and right ventricular functions. Attention is given to the new methods and especially their validation. This allows the characterization of the cardiac function, under normal or pathological conditions. Aligned with this strategy, the heart failure with preserved systolic function is of particular interest for the thematic (Professor A.-C. Pouleur). These advances in imaging are translated to small animal imaging and applied in the different projects of the thematic (Professors C. Beauloye, St. Moniotte and B. Gerber).
  • The fourth area of ​​our researches focuses on the natural history, pre-operative clinical characterization and post-operative evolution of valvular diseases. Emphasis is given to the impact of valvular diseases and / or their treatment on the remodeling and the ventricular function (Professors J.-L. Vanoverschelde, B. Gerber, A. Pasquet, G. El Khoury, L de Kerchove ).
  • The fifth area of our researches concerns the vascular system. The control of vascular permeability and vasomotor tone are two other areas of interest of the thematic group. These two elements play an important role in the cardiovascular complications of the sepsis (or severe infection) (Professors D. Castanares-Zapatero, Ch. Beauloye and S. Horman) or in the pathophysiology of the ventricular remodeling (often associated with vascular remodeling) cited above (Professors Ch Dessy, S. Horman and JL Balligand)

Clinical implications

The thematic group also proposes research projects involving technological advances, such as:

  • new techniques for percutaneous resection of the aortic valve before TAVI (Professor P. Astarci)
  • the development of a new bioabsorbable stent (Professor J. Kefer)
  • the identification of new biomarkers of the endothelial function (Professors Ch. Dessy and JL Balligand) or arterial thrombosis (Professors S. Horman and Ch Beauloye).

Finally, the thematic group coordinates several European projects, such as a European initiative on the fibro-muscular dysplasia (Professor A. Persu) and a clinical trial aiming to prevent the heart failure (Professor JL Balligand).