Main research topics:

  • The main study topics of this unit are dedicated to the use of sewage to estimate whole population illicit drug use; in vivo migration and differentiation of neural stem cells; the importance of endothelial progenitor cells and endothelial microparticles as biomarkers and their role in sepsis and head injury besides the above described endocrine disrupters.

    Illicit drugs and determination methodology

    The stability of nine illicit drugs and metabolites in influent wastewater was investigated demonstrating a significant difference in stability between different compounds. Together with the lab of toxicology an analytical procedure based on solid-phase extraction (SPE) and liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for the determination of some emerging drugs in influent wastewater was optimized, validated and implicated.

    Neural stem cells (NSCs) – head injury

    In a shared project with the lab of experimental hematology (prof. P. Ponsaert) we could demonstrate that IV administration of NSCs currently has limited or no therapeutic potential for neuroinflammatory disease in mice, and presumably also for human MS, as they stick in the lungs. However, the intrinsic capacity to survive in the CNS opens further opportunities. This project resulted in several highly-impacted peer-reviewed papers.

    Together with the lab of neurosurgery, a head injury rat model representing a clinical relevant model for intracranial hypertension and traumatic brain injury was developed allowing the continuous measurement of intracranial pressure (ICP) in freely moving rats resulting in several papers and a PhD (Rooker Servan).

    Endothelial progenitor cells and endothelial microparticles

    Outcome in sepsis is mainly defined by the degree of organ failure, for which endothelial dysfunction at the macro- and microvascular level is an important determinant, which was investigated using cellular endothelial markers and in vivo assessment of reactive hyperaemia. In patients with severe sepsis, in vivo measured endothelial dysfunction coincides with lower numbers and reduced function of circulating cells implicated in endothelial repair. Our results suggest that cellular markers of endothelial repair might be valuable in the assessment and evolution of organ dysfunction.

    Besides circulating endothelial microparticles (EMP) reflect the condition of the endothelium and are of increasing interest in cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. However a direct interference of lipids with EMP analysis is suggested, which we could confirm after both in vitro addition and in vivo administration of lipids, significantly decreasing EMP.