Heart Failure & Arrhythmias research themes focus on impaired diastolic function with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction, inherited and congenital cardiomyopathies. The research themes atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias focus on genotype-phenotype studies and arrhythmia mechanisms in various cardiac pathologies.

Research on Heart Failure & Arrhythmias in both locations of Amsterdam UMC is highly complementary and synergistic. Presently, the main pathologies that are addressed include diastolic heart failure, inherited and congenital (non-ischemic) cardiomyopathies (hypertrophic CM, dilated CM etc), ventricular arrhythmias associated with sudden cardiac death and atrial fibrillation, which are organized within four themes.

Unique research expertise involve: sarcomere and cardiomyocyte physiology, Drosophila atrial fibrillation model, clinical and experimental electrophysiology, (cardio)genetics, iPSC-CM (inducible pluripotent stem cells-derived cardiomyocytes) technology, bioinformatics, and developmental biology.

Infographics on research performed within the Heart Failure & Arrhythmias research program:

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Aim

We aim to further increase the quality of our research and training activities to become a Top Heart Failure and Arrhythmia Research group within Europe. We will intensify collaboration between participating departments and jointly coordinate our activities on training and recruitment of talented researchers.

We aim to expand our expertise with bioinformatics, high-resolution imaging, human iPSC-CM and engineered 3D cardiac muscle tissue. Joint investments in infrastructure, technologies and expertise (technical support) are needed to maintain a unique niche in the cardiac research field.

Program Leaders

Young ACS

Diederik Kuster & Anke TijsenMalou van den Boogaard

Research themes

Diastolic heart failure

During the last two decades it has become evident that more than 50 percent of all heart failure patients suffer of impaired diastolic function with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (HFpEF).

Despite modern heart failure therapy, prognosis of HFpEF did not improve over the last decades. To unravel pathomechanisms underlying diastolic dysfunction, In vivo clinical studies are combined with cellular studies in human cardiac preparations.

In addition, several large and small animal models are used to unravel the pathomechanisms underlying impaired diastolic function.

Cardiomyopathies

To unravel the complex pathophysiology of inherited and congenital cardiomyopathies, a tight collaboration is present between the different actors involved in cardiomyopathy, including (clinical) geneticists, cardiologists, pathologists, cell biologists and physiologists.

Expertise is bundled within the different research fields and thereby links clinical imaging and genetic studies with mechanistic insights obtained from molecular, histological and functional studies in human cardiac muscle samples, cell systems and animal models.

Established models include single cardiomyocytes systems and mouse and Drosophila, which enable mechanistic studies and drug screening. The Parelsnoer institute, CONCOR, provides access to patient data, DNA and cardiac samples on congenital heart disease (including pulmonary hypertension and Marfan syndrome).

Heart failure and arrhythmias: a unique niche in the cardiac research field

Arrhythmias

Research within this theme aims to identify genetic risk factors and cellular pathomechanisms underlying cardiac disorders associated with increased risk of sudden cardiac death.

The focus is placed on genotype-phenotype studies and arrhythmia mechanisms in different cardiac pathologies, among which hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, primary arrhythmogenic syndromes (Long QT syndrome, cardiac conduction disease and Brugada syndrome) and myocardial infarction/ischemia.

The research includes discovery of genetic factors which cause or modify cardiac disease, investigation of underlying (pro)arrhythmic mechanisms, and identification of novel targets for diagnosis, risk stratification and therapy, including the interaction between structure and function.

Functional studies are performed in experimental model systems (transgenic mice, human iPSC-CM) on newly-identified genes and pathways, providing insight into the pathophysiological mechanism underlying the disease.

The theme links up with other Research Programs through metabolic control of electrophysiology, calcium handling, structure-function relation and pharmacology.

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common age-related cardiac arrhythmia causing increased morbidity and mortality. AF treatment is difficult due to its persistent nature caused by progressive structural and functional changes.

Studies focus on normalization of protein homeostasis to reverse structural remodeling and restore cardiomyocyte function in AF. Genetic and pharmacological manipulations are used in tachypaced atrial cardiomyocytes and Drosophila and results are validated in atrial tissue of AF patients.

In addition to basic research, clinical programs including studies into the role of the autonomic nervous system, thoracoscopic ablation, hearth rhythm devices such as the subcutaneous ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator), wireless pacemakers and drug therapies, and evaluation of neurological consequences are performed in AF patients giving rise to an entire translational research line.

PI's and ongoing research lines

The following PI's are member of the Heart Failure & Arrhythmias Research Program:

Principal Investigator Location Department
Connie Bezzina (program leader) AMC Experimental Cardiology
Bianca Brundel (program leader) VUmc Physiology
Gerard Boink AMC Medical Biology
Bas Boukens AMC Medical Biology & Experimental Cardiology
Vincent Christoffels AMC Medical Biology
Marco Götte/Cor Allaart VUmc Cardiology
Louis Handoko VUmc Cardiology
Victor van Hinsbergh/Pieter Koolwijk VUmc Physiology
Barbara Mulder/Berto Bouma AMC Cardiology / Heart Center
Yigal Pinto AMC Experimental Cardiology
Carol Ann Remme AMC Experimental Cardiology
Dop Simonides VUmc Physiology
Jolanda van der Velden VUmc Physiology
Deli Zhang VUmc Physiology

PI’s and staff members of the Heart Failure & Arrhythmias Research program were invited to give a short pitch about their research, funding and future plans for the coming years. This resulted in the figure presented below and an overview of missions along with slides for individual research lines (see Downloads). If your research is missing, please send an email to acs@amsterdamumc.nl with the ongoing research template (see Downloads).

Overview of collaboration within the HF&A Research Program and with other ACS Research Programs. Lines represent ongoing collaboration between HF&A PI's. Asterisks indicate program leaders: Connie Bezzina & Bianca Brundel.
Overview of collaboration within the HF&A Research Program and with other ACS Research Programs. Lines represent ongoing collaboration between HF&A PI's. Asterisks indicate program leaders: Connie Bezzina & Bianca Brundel.

Downloads

ACS research lines by HF&A Principal Investigators:

Program members