Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the medium and large sized arteries of the body characterised by a gradual infiltration of the arterial wall by lipids and different types of immune cells. In humans atherosclerosis is related to coronary artery disease (CAD) which can lead to life threatening conditions such as myocardial infarction due to thrombotic phenomena triggered by atherosclerotic plaque rupture.


In our experiments we focus on analysing in vivo the processes that drive leukocyte recruitment in the arterial wall during different stages of atherosclerosis in mice. These include the

  • basic molecular mechanisms of leukocyte intraluminal migration into atherosclerotic plaques
  • the role of intraplaque cellular necrosis on leukocyte recruitment into the inflamed arterial wall
  • the molecular events that are triggered intraluminally and intraplaque upon plaque rupture.

 To address these questions we have established a novel technique for in vivo imaging of large vessels in mice based on the use of two photon microscopy. This approach allowes us to analyse in real time dynamic molecular processes related to atherosclerosis and to better understand the biologic relevance of leukocyte motility and behaviour in the development and progression of this disease.


PI Raffaele Coletti



Key publications:


Atherosclerosis--multiple pathways to lesional macrophages.

Schulz C, Massberg S.

Sci Transl Med. 2014 Jun 4;6(239):239ps2. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008922. Review.


Platelets in atherosclerosis and thrombosis.

Schulz C, Massberg S.

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2012;(210):111-33. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-29423-5_5. Review.


Impact of glycoprotein VI and platelet adhesion on atherosclerosis--a possible role of fibronectin.

Bültmann A, Li Z, Wagner S, Peluso M, Schönberger T, Weis C, Konrad I, Stellos K, Massberg S, Nieswandt B, Gawaz M, Ungerer M, Münch G.

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2010 Sep;49(3):532-42. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2010.04.009. Epub 2010 Apr 27.


Platelet adhesion via glycoprotein IIb integrin is critical for atheroprogression and focal cerebral ischemia: an in vivo study in mice lacking glycoprotein IIb.

Massberg S, Schürzinger K, Lorenz M, Konrad I, Schulz C, Plesnila N, Kennerknecht E, Rudelius M, Sauer S, Braun S, Kremmer E, Emambokus NR, Frampton J, Gawaz M.

Circulation. 2005 Aug 23;112(8):1180-8. Epub 2005 Aug 15.


A critical role of platelet adhesion in the initiation of atherosclerotic lesion formation.

Massberg S, Brand K, Grüner S, Page S, Müller E, Müller I, Bergmeier W, Richter T, Lorenz M, Konrad I, Nieswandt B, Gawaz M.

J Exp Med. 2002 Oct 7;196(7):887-96.