When the heart cannot adapt

To improve the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases in the future, a European partnership is awarding more than five million euros to four international research teams. A project on the consequences of pulmonary hypertension, co-led by Gabriele G. Schiattarella, is also being funded.

Gabriele G. Schiattarella

This is the fourth time the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) and the Dutch Heart Foundation (DHF) are working together and joining forces: In four projects, teams with scientists from the three countries are researching heart failure, atherosclerosis, heart failure in pulmonary hypertension and analysing thousands of proteins in four projects to predict the probability of a heart attack or stroke. The current funding round was aimed at mid-career scientists. A total of 5.3 million euros have been awarded to the four projects for four years.

“Still, most people in Germany and worldwide die of cardiovascular diseases. One country alone cannot solve the problems of cardiovascular medicine – If we combine our resources and work together internationally, we will reach our common goal faster - to better treat or even cure cardiovascular diseases,“ Professor Stefanie Dimmeler, spokesperson of the DZHK Board of Directors says.

The “PROMETHEUS” project, co-led by Dr. Gabriele G. Schiattarella, is being funded with 250,000 euros. He works at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and at the Max Delbrück Center:

Why some hearts fail as a result of pulmonary hypertension

Failure of the right side of the heart to function as it should is the leading cause of death in people with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a condition where blood pressure in lung arteries is dangerously high. The right main chamber of the heart, which pumps blood through lung arteries, needs to adapt to pumping against the high pressure that it encounters in people with PAH. However, for unknown reasons, the hearts of some patients with PAH are unable to adapt and this can lead to right heart failure. This suggests that that genetic variants may determine the adaptation capacity of the right heart. In addition, cardiac alterations in PAH are not limited to the right side of the heart. Left ventricle – which supplies systemic blood circulation – can be significantly impaired in PAH, making this condition significantly demanding for the heart and the body in general. The PROMETHEUS team will investigate specific genetic differences that might determine the right heart’s ability to adapt to pressure overload, to help find new ways of preventing heart failure in PAH.

Professor Soni Pullamsetti, Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research; Dr Gabriele G. Schiattarella, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin; Dr Frances S. de Man, Amsterdam University Medical Center Dr Andrew Swift, University of Sheffield.


Further information

About the British Heart Foundation


It is only with donations from the public that the BHF can keep its life saving research going. Help us turn science fiction into reality. With donations from the public, the BHF funds ground-breaking research that will get us closer than ever to a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases. A world where broken hearts are mended, where millions more people survive a heart attack, where the number of people dying from or disabled by a stroke is slashed in half. A world where people affected by heart and circulatory diseases get the support they need. And a world of cures and treatments we can’t even imagine today.

Find out more at bhf.org.uk

About the German Center for Cardiovascular Research


The German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) is one of six German Centers for Health Research established by the German government to combat the major common diseases. The DZHK wants to develop new therapies and diagnostic procedures that impact the lives of people suffering from cardiovascular diseases. To achieve this, the DZHK aims to rapidly and efficiently transfer results from basic research into clinical practice. Therefore, it brings together outstanding basic and clinical researchers from seven sites in Germany. It fosters collaboration between scientists to develop synergies and thus accelerate the process of translation.

German Center for Cardiovascular Research

About the Dutch Heart Foundation


The Dutch Heart Foundation (DHF) is a Netherlands-based charity that aims to reduce the burden caused by cardiovascular diseases and keep hearts healthy through stimulating collaborations in cardiovascular research and enhancing knowledge and awareness on these devastating diseases. The DHF works together with scientists, physicians, patients, public and private organisations and many volunteers on solutions for the early detection of cardiovascular diseases and better treatments for these diseases. The DHF stimulates research and innovation and provides support and information to (at-risk) patients.

Dutch Heart Foundation