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Süddeutsche Zeitung highlights IPEK research

Research from IPEK scientists Sarajo Mohanta, Andreas Habenicht and Christian Weber appears in the Süddeutsche Zeitung as part of 2022 LMU groundbreaking findings.

Although atherosclerosis is being researched allover the world, whether a direct connection between the affected artery and the brain exists had not been considered for a long time. The reason for this: nerves do not cross the plaques inside the artery.


IPEK scientists Sarajo Mohanta, Andreas Habenicht and Christian Weber, together with an international team including Daniela Carnevale and Giuseppe Lembo from La Sapienza University in Rome, have turned their attention to the outside of the artery, which can also be inflamed. They showed that molecular sensors, so-called receptors, use messenger substances to identify where vessels are inflamed and plaques are located. The receptors then send electrical signals via the nerve pathways to the brain. The brain processes the signals and sends a stress signal back to the inflamed blood vessel. This negatively affects the inflammation, worsening atherosclerosis. This newly discovered electrical circuit between the arteries and the brain has an important significance. In animal experiments, it was possible to disconnect  the diseased artery from the brain. After eight months, atherosclerosis was less pronounced in mice treated this way than in untreated animals.


The scientists next want to find out exactly how the peripheral nervous system is organised - and what role other receptors play. There is also much evidence to suggest that the interface between the brain and diseased blood vessels is regulated by stress. Therefore, it is planned to investigate neurobiological aspects: Which cells in the brain react to signals from diseased blood vessels? And with which regions in the brain are these cells in turn connected? "In the long term, we hope that atherosclerosis can finally be treated causally," says Sarajo K. Mohanta, "but that may still take some time".


Süddeutsche Zeitung

Nature 2022