Prof. Dr. Henning Morawietz

Endothelium and cardiovascular diseases

Previous and current research

Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of mortality in the industrial countries. Arteriosclerosis is considered to play a key role in this process, because the progression of this disease increases the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. The endothelial cells form the inner layer of the blood vessels and play an important in the development and progression of arteriosclerosis.

Local differences in hemodynamic forces acting by the flowing blood on the cells of the vessel wall have been postulated as a putative mechanism for the localization of arteriosclerotic plaques. One major focus of our research is therefore the identification of molecular changes in response to different hemodynamic forces in human endothelial cells. A second research focus is the investigation of putative proarteriosclerotic mechanisms like increased oxidative stress or augmented uptake of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) by the vasoactive peptides endothelin-1 and angiotensin II in endothelial cells. In addition, we are interested in the mechanisms of arteriovenous differentiation of endothelial cells.

Future prospects and goals

We are currently extending our in vitro studies in experimental and clinical studies in vivo and analyze the putative antiarteriosclerotic potential of pharmacological intervention in the renin-angiotensin system or lipid-lowering drugs. We would like to answer the following questions:

  • What is the role of endothelial dysfunction in the development of vascular diseases?
  • Is the increased formation of reactive oxygen species and oxidized lipoproteins involved in these processes?
  • How differentiate endothelial cells into an arterial or venous phenotype?
  • What is the role of mediators of angiogenesis and vascular differentiation in vascular function?

Selected publications

  1. Morawietz H, Rueckschloss U, Niemann B, Duerrschmidt N, Galle J, Hakim K, Zerkowski H-R, Sawamura T, Holtz J (1999): Angiotensin II induces LOX-1, the human endothelial receptor for oxidized low-density lipoprotein. Circulation, 100:899-902.
  2. Morawietz H, Szibor M, Goettsch W, Bartling B, Barton M, Shaw S, Koerfer R, Zerkowski H-R, Holtz J (2000): Deloading of the left ventricle by ventricular assist device normalizes increased expression of endothelin ETA receptors but not endothelin-converting enzyme-1 in patients with end-stage heart failure. Circulation, 102:III188-III193.
  3. Schubert A, Cattaruzza M, Hecker M, Darmer D, Holtz J, Morawietz H (2000): Shear stress-dependent regulation of the human b-tubulin folding cofactor D gene. Circ. Res., 87:1188-1194.
  4. Rueckschloss U, Galle J, Holtz J, Zerkowski H-R, Morawietz H (2001): Induction of NAD(P)H oxidase by oxidized low-density lipoprotein in human endothelial cells: antioxidative potential of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor therapy. Circulation, 104:1767-1772.
  5. Rueckschloss U, Quinn MT, Holtz J, Morawietz H (2002): Dose-dependent regulation of NAD(P)H oxidase expression by angiotensin II in human endothelial cells: protective effect of AT1 receptor blockade in patients with coronary artery disease. Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol., 22:1845-1851
  6. Ellinghaus P, Scheubel RJ, Dobrev D, Ravens U, Holtz J, Huetter J, Nielsch U, Morawietz H (2005): Comparing the global mRNA expression profile of human atrium and ventricle using high density oligonucleotide arrays. J. Thorac. Cardiovasc. Surg., 129:1383-1390.

Curriculum vitae

1987-1990: PhD student at the University of Halle and the Biological Research Center Szeged

1990: PhD at the University of Halle

1990-1994: Resident and fellow at the Institute of Genetics, University of Halle, additional training at Universities of Cologne and Geneva

1994-1995: Group leader at the Institute of Pathophysiology, University of Halle

1995-1996: Postdoc (DAAD stipendium) at the Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco

1996-2000: Group leader,

2000-2002: Scientific Assistant (C1), and

2002-2003: Assistant Professor (C2) at the Institute of Pathophysiology, University of Halle,

since 2003: Professor and Head of Department of Vascular Endothelium and Microcirculation, Medical Clinic III, University Clinic of Dresden

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