Despite improved therapy, cardiovascular diseases remain the most prevalent diseases in the European Union and the incidence is rising due to increased obesity and ageing. The fine-tuned regulation of vascular functions is essential not only for preventing atherosclerotic diseases, but also after tissue injury, where the coordinated growth and maturation of new blood vessels provides oxygen and nutrient supply. On the other hand, excessive vessel growth or the generation of immature, leaky vessels contributes to pathological angiogenesis. Thus, the regulation of the complex processes governing vessel growth and maturation has broad impacts for several diseases ranging from tumor angiogenesis, diabetic retinopathy, to ischemic cardiovascular diseases. MicroRNAs (miRs) are small noncoding RNAs, which play a crucial role in embryonic development and tissue homeostasis. However, only limited information is available regarding the role of miRs in the vasculature. MiRs regulate gene expression by binding to the target mRNA leading either to degradation or to translational repression. Because miRs control patterns of target genes, miRs represent an attractive and promising therapeutic target to interfere with complex processes such as neovascularization and repair of ischemic tissues. Therefore, the present application aims to identify miRs in the vasculature, which regulate vessel growth and vessel remodelling and may, thus, serve as therapeutic targets in ischemic diseases. Since ageing critically impairs endothelial function, neovascularization and vascular repair, we will specifically identify miRs, which are dysregulated during ageing in endothelial cells and pro-angiogenic progenitor cells, in order to develop novel strategies to rescue age-induced impairment of neovascularization. Beyond the specific scope of the present application, the principle findings may have impact for other diseases, where deregulated vessel growth causes or accelerates disease states.
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