Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), affecting the heart and blood vessels, are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and represent a major burden for health care systems. One of the major risk factors for CVD is diabetes mellitus (DM), which is associated with both micro and macrovascular complications. Obesity, hypertension and dyslipidemia are also common in patients with DM, placing them at increased risk for cardiac events. A successful approach to a complex clinical issue, which can lead to personalized medicine and pave the way towards the development of more precise diagnosis tools and more efficient and effective therapies, implies a holistic and integrative perspective of Cardiovascular diseases. This research line combines strong synergies of expertise and skills from fundamental scientists and clinicians. The main objective of this research line is to foster an interdisciplinary approach to leverage translational research, grounded on a comprehensive perspective from molecule to man. To boost the existing capacities and competencies, crossing canonical and static boundaries between disciplines, this line brings together basic researchers and clinicians, supporting a strategy “from bench to bedside and back again”.
In terms of basic research, we investigate the strategies whereby cardiac cells communicate and the mechanisms involved in the maintenance of a healthy proteome. More specifically, we aim to elucidate how the disturbance of protein degradation and intercellular communication systems can contribute to CVD, with a particular focus on autophagy and gap junction and extracellular vesicle communication. Additionally, we are interested on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the metabolic dysregulation associated with obesity, prediabetes, diabetes and its major vascular complications, focusing on oxidative stress, glycation, inflammation, dysbiosis and autonomic gastrointestinal dysfunction. Furthermore, we test therapeutic interventions - non-pharmacological (namely nutraceutical) and pharmacological -, targeting the main tissues contributing and sensing insulin resistance (particularly the adipose tissue and the liver), the organs where complications take place (namely the vascular endothelium and the kidney), and the gastrointestinal tract.
In terms of clinical competencies, the group has two highly differentiated areas, i) heart failure (HF) and ii) transplantation and interventional cardiology. The team integrates competencies and resources on i) advanced HF & transplantation, ii) coronary care, iii) percutaneous structural cardiac intervention, iv) advanced electrophysiology, v) pulmonary hypertension, vi) congenital heart diseases, vii) advanced imaging capabilities, viii) syncope and ix) telemedicine & telemonitorization.