Grants awarded

Optical dissection of endothelial calcium signalling


Dr Calum Wilson

University of Strathclyde

United Kingdom

The endothelium is a layer of cells that lines all blood vessels in the body. Endothelial cells have a number of important functions including acting as a barrier between the blood and body tissue, controlling transport of nutrients into tissue and controlling blood clotting. The endothelium also controls the size of blood vessels, the formation of new blood vessels, and how the body responds to infection. The endothelium is able to control all of these functions because endothelial cells work together. The focus of this work is to understand how endothelial cells are able to communicate with each other and coordinate their activities.

The importance of the endothelium was detected when blood vessels reacted to acetylcholine  only when the inner layer was intact. This chemical is not normally found in the blood and so no one knows why it is able to act on the endothelium. It has been discovered that endothelial cells make and release acetylcholine. This work will explore how endothelial acetylcholine allows endothelial cells to ‘talk’ to each other and coordinate every aspect of blood vessel function.