Project: ENdothelial Retinal function as Indicator for vascular Cognitive Health

Acronym ENRICH (Reference Number: ERA-CVD_JTC2020-028)
Duration 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2023
Project Topic Microvascular endothelial dysfunction is a key player in cardiovascular (CV) diseases, such as heart failure, chronic kidney disease and glaucoma and precedes the development of cognitive impairment. The retina is the sole place in the human body where microvasculature can be non-invasively assessed, both structurally and functionally. Retinal endothelial dysfunction, assessed by flicker light (DVA), has been shown to be impaired in increasing age and in various conditions associated with CV impairment such as sedentary lifestyle, glaucoma, coronary artery disease and chronic kidney disease. Since retinal endothelial function can be monitored (and improved, e.g. after physical exercise), targeting this parameter is of high preventive interest for all mentioned diseases. The scope of this project is to explore the potential of retinal vascular parameters (including DVA) to detect and monitor microvascular dysfunction, and to correlate the measured dysfunction with cognitive decline (WP1. Artificial intelligence will be used to achieve this goal, managing big data (WP2). Moreover, to better understand the underlying pathophysiology and identify potential therapeutic targets, this project will explore the fundamentals of microvascular dysfunction by studying senescence, vascular permeability and pericyte function (WP3). The final goal is to establish retinal endothelial dysfunction as a non-invasive, cost-effective and modifiable measure in CV disease, thus enabling prevention of vascular related neurodegeneration through early vascular screening via a simple ocular exam.
Network ERA-CVD
Call ERA-CVD Joint Transnational Call 2020

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 UZ Leuven/ KU Leuven Coordinator Belgium
2 Technion – Israel Institute of Technology Partner Israel
3 Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Université de Montréal Partner Canada
4 Inserm, Université de Bordeaux Partner France
5 University of Basel Observer Switzerland