Frans van Nieuwenhoven
Dr Frans van Nieuwenhoven received his PhD in 1996 at Maastricht University on a thesis about the biological significance of fatty acid-binding proteins (FABP) in cardiac fatty acid uptake and on the use of FABP as plasma marker for myocardial tissue damage. From 1996-2005, he was post-doc in Maastricht and Utrecht studying myocardial metabolism and the role of growth factors in long term renal and cardiac complications of diabetes mellitus. During this period he was trained in physiology, and he was registered as Medical Physiologist by the Dutch Committee for Medical-Biological Research Training (SMBWO) in 2001. In 2005, he was appointed as Assistant Professor at the Department of Physiology at Maastricht University, investigating cardiomyocyte-fibroblast interaction and the role of paracrine growth factor signalling in cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.
An important focus of the research is the effect of electro-mechanical stimulation on the heart and on the isolated cardiac cell types: cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts. Aside from neurohumoral and local paracrine factors, it is becoming increasingly evident that electrical and mechanical signaling significantly determine cardiac structure and function both in health and in disease. Currently, the possible beneficial effect of electromechanical stimulation of the heart to improve myocardial infarct healing is studied. The effects of electromechanical stimulation are explored both in vivo and in vitro. Cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts are isolated from adult hearts and cultured separately and in co-culture, and the influence of electrical and mechanical stimulation is determined. Finally, 3D-cultures of cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts in engineered heart matrix are used to study the cellular function in a more physiological environment.