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Henning Morawietz Group

Endothelium and cardiovascular diseases

Portrait Henning Morawietz

Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of mortality in the industrial countries. Arteriosclerosis is considered to play a key role in this process, because the progression of this disease increases the risk of hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. The endothelial cells form the inner layer of the blood vessels and play an important in the development and progression of arteriosclerosis.

Local differences in hemodynamic forces acting by the flowing blood on the cells of the vessel wall have been postulated as a putative mechanism for the localization of arteriosclerotic plaques. One major focus of our research is therefore the identification of molecular changes in response to different hemodynamic forces in human endothelial cells. A second research focus is the investigation of putative proarteriosclerotic mechanisms like increased NADPH oxidase-dependent oxidative stress or augmented uptake of oxidized low-density lipoprotein in endothelial cells. We are interested in the mechanisms of the arteriovenous differentiation of endothelial cells and the formation of new blood vessels. Additional directions of the research are the adrenal gland with special focus on aldosterone, retinal diseases and the impact of risk factors like obesity, smoking, and diabetes on cardiovascular diseases.

We extend our in vitro studies in experimental and clinical studies in vivo and analyze the putative antiarteriosclerotic potential of pharmacological intervention in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system or lipid-lowering drugs.

Henning Morawietz Research: Figure 1
Fig.1: Occlusion of femoral artery
Henning Morawietz Research: Figure 2
Fig.2: Development of vascular networks from endothelial cells

Future Projects and Goals

Endothelial cells play a major role in the development and differentiation of the vascular system. The development of a functional vascular system is also a crucial step in survival of regenerating tissue. Risk factors like oxidative stress, smoking, and low-density lipoproteins can accelerate endothelial dysfunction and arteriosclerosis. In further studies, we will try to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes and develop therapeutic strategies in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Using techniques of molecular and cell biology, transgenic models and clinical studies we will try to answer the following questions:

  1. How do risk factors like obesity, smoking, and diabetes potentiate cardiovascular diseases?
  2. Is the increased formation of reactive oxygen species and oxidized lipoproteins involved in these processes?
  3. How differentiate endothelial cells into an arterial or venous phenotype?
  4. What are the molecular mechanisms of the formation of new blood vessels?

Methodological and Technical Expertise

  • Primary cultures of human endothelial cells
  • Application of biomechanical forces (shear stress, cyclic strain) on cells
  • Promoter deletion studies and transcription factors
  • Experimental models of endothelial dysfunction, obesity and diabetes
  • Clinical studies


since 2021
Member of Council on Basic Cardiovascular Science Board of European Society of Cardiology

since 2019
Secretary General of European Society for Microcirculation

Chairman Strategy Committee European Society for Microcirculation

Secretary General of Society of Microcirculation and Vascular Biology

President of the Society of Microcirculation and Vascular Biology

since 2003
Full Professor and Chief of Division of Vascular Endothelium and Microcirculation, Department of Medicine III, TUD Dresden University of Technology, Germany

Assistant Professor, Institute of Pathophysiology, University of Halle, Germany

Group Leader, Institute of Pathophysiology, University of Halle, Germany

Postdoctoral Fellow, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, California

Group Leader, Institute of Pathophysiology, University of Halle, Germany

Postdoctoral fellow, Institute of Genetics, University of Halle, Germany, Studies at Universities of Cologne (1991) and Geneva (1993)

PhD, University of Halle, Germany

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Selected Publications

Kamhieh-Milz J, Chen L, Goettsch C, Pfefferkorn AM, Hofmann A, Brunssen C, Müller G, Walther T, Ashraf MI, Moll G, Morawietz H, Witowski J, Catar R
Angiotensin II promotes endothelin 1 production by regulating NOX2 activity through transcription factor Oct-1
Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 43:1429-1440 (2023)

Giebe S, Hofmann A, Brux M, Lowe F, Breheny D, Morawietz H, Brunssen C
Comparative study of the effects of cigarette smoke versus next generation tobacco and nicotine product extracts on endothelial function.
Redox Biol. 47:102150 (2021)

Santovito D, Egea V, Bidzhekov K, Natarelli L, Mourão A, Blanchet X, Wichapong K, Aslani M, Brunßen C, Horckmans M, Hristov M, Geerlof A, Lutgens E, Daemen MJAP, Hackeng T, Ries C, Chavakis T, Morawietz H, Naumann R, von Hundelshausen P, Steffens S, Duchêne J, Megens RTA, Sattler M, Weber C
Noncanonical inhibition of caspase-3 by a nuclear microRNA confers endothelial protection by autophagy in atherosclerosis.
Sci. Transl. Med. 12(546):eaaz2294 (1–15) (2020)

Schwarz PEH, Timpel P, Harst L, Greaves CJ, Ali MK, Lambert J, Weber MB, Almedawar MM, Morawietz H
Blood sugar regulation for cardiovascular health promotion and disease prevention - JACC health promotion series.
J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 72:1829–1844 (2018)

Langbein H, Brunssen C, Hofmann A, Cimalla P, Brux M, Bornstein SR, Deussen A, Koch E, Morawietz H
NADPH oxidase 4 protects against development of endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis in LDL receptor deficient mice.
Eur. Heart J., 37(22):1753–1761 (2016)


Centre for Metabolic and Immunological Diseases and Therapeutic Technologies Saxony (MITS)
Technische Universität Dresden
Fiedlerstraße 40
01307 Dresden