Leon Schurgers


Initially trained in clinical chemistry and hematology at the University of Applied Science, Prof. Leon Schurgers obtained his PhD at the Department of Biochemistry within CARIM on the role of vitamin K1 and K2 on bone metabolism and cardiovascular disease. He worked as post-doc on a Dutch Heart Foundation grant on the role of matrix Gla-protein synthesized by vascular smooth muscle cell and calcification in collaboration with the group of Prof. Catherine Shanahan (Cambridge, UK).

In 2009, he was appointed on a tenured position at the Department of Biochemistry. After entering the Toptalent programme (Maastricht UMC+) in 2016, he was appointed as Professor of Biochemistry of Vascular Calcification in 2017. He is vice-chair of the department of Biochemistry. Since 2021, he chairs the stem cell research facility of the University of Maastricht (SCRUM).

The focus of his current work is elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which vascular remodelling is initiated and propagated. Key cellular events include phenotypic switching of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and the role of oxidative stress, extracellular vesicles and calcification. In this, he collaborates closely with the Cardiothoracic Surgery and Vascular Surgery departments of the Heart and Vessel Center (HVC) of the Maastricht University Medical Center. Patient derived primary SMCs are isolated from vascular tissue and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are generated from patient derived peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). These iPSCs are used to differentiate into patient specific cardiovascular cells (i.e., cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells and fibroblasts) to study cardiovascular disease.

The underlying causes of SMC phenotypic switching are insufficient to understand the pathogenesis of vascular ageing and calcification at a level that allows development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies. In his project line, the Schurgers’ group aim to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of vitamin K-metabolism in health and vascular disease. Importantly, this work will help to understand the paradoxal observation that patients with low vitamin K-status during oral anticoagulant treatment develop enhanced vascular calcification and our results might provide new insights in prognostic and preventive measures to combat vascular ageing.

Professor Schurgers is Chairman of the steering scientific board on the world-wide quality assurance scheme for vitamin K detection and member of the scientific advisory boards of the Dutch Thrombosis Society.

Department of Biochemistry
Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER Maastricht
PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht
Room number: 4.314
T: +31(0)43 388 16 80

  • 2024
    • Ganizada, B. H., J. A. Veltrop, R., Akbulut, A. C., Koenen, R. R., Accord, R., Lorusso, R., Maessen, J. G., Reesink, K., Bidar, E., & Schurgers, L. J. (2024). Unveiling cellular and molecular aspects of ascending thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections. Basic Research in Cardiology, 119(3), 371-395. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00395-024-01053-1
    • Pinto, E., Viegas, C., Martins, P. V., Marreiros, C., Nascimento, T., Schurgers, L., & Simes, D. (2024). Mediterranean Diet Favors Vitamin K Intake: A Descriptive Study in a Mediterranean Population. Nutrients, 16(8), Article 1098. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16081098
    • Lemmens, T. P., Bröker, V., Rijpkema, M., Hughes, C. C. W., Schurgers, L. J., & Cosemans, J. M. E. M. (2024). Fundamental considerations for designing endothelialized in vitro models of thrombosis. Thrombosis Research, 236, 179-190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.thromres.2024.03.004
    • Veltrop, R. J. A., Kukk, M. M., Topouzidou, K., Didden, L., Muchir, A., van Steenbeek, F. G., Schurgers, L. J., & Harakalova, M. (2024). From gene to mechanics: a comprehensive insight into the mechanobiology of LMNA mutations in cardiomyopathy. Cell Communication and Signaling, 22(1), Article 197. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12964-024-01546-5
  • 2023
    • Mulder, M. M. G., Schellens, J., Sels, J.-W. E. M., van Rosmalen, F., Hulshof, A.-M., de Vries, F., Segers, R., Mihl, C., van Mook, W. N. K. A., Bast, A., Spronk, H. M. H., Henskens, Y. M. C., van der Horst, I. C. C., ten Cate, H., Schurgers, L. J., Drent, M., & van Bussel, B. C. T. (2023). Higher levels of circulating desphospho-uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein over time are associated with worse survival: the prospective Maastricht Intensive Care COVID cohort. Journal of Intensive Care, 11(1), Article 63. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40560-023-00712-0
    • Potjewijd, J., Tobal, R., Boomars, K. A., van Empel, V. V. P. M., de Vries, F., Damoiseaux, J. G. M. C., Schurgers, L. J., & van Paassen, P. (2023). Plasma Dephosphorylated-Uncarboxylated Matrix Gla-Protein in Systemic Sclerosis Patients: Biomarker Potential for Vascular Calcification and Inflammation. Diagnostics, 13(23), Article 3526. https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics13233526
    • Haroon, S., Davenport, A., Ling, L. H., Tai, B. C., Teo, L. L. S., Schurgers, L., Chen, Z., Shroff, R., Fischer, D. C., Khatri, P., Low, S., Tan, J. N., Chua, H. R., Teo, B. W., Ong, C. C., Subramanian, S., Yeo, X. E., Wong, W. K., & Lau, T. W. L. (2023). Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of the Effect of Treatment with Vitamin K2 on Vascular Calcification in Hemodialysis Patients (Trevasc-HDK). Kidney International Reports, 8(9), 1741-1751. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ekir.2023.06.011
    • Ganizada, B. H., Reesink, K. D., Parikh, S., Ramaekers, M. J. F. G., Akbulut, A. C., Saraber, P. J. M. H., Debeij, G. P., Jaminon, A. M., Natour, E., Lorusso, R., Wildberger, J. E., Mees, B., Schurink, G. W., Jacobs, M. J., Cleutjens, J., Krapels, I., Gombert, A., Maessen, J. G., Accord, R., ... MUMC TAA Student Team (2023). The Maastricht Acquisition Platform for Studying Mechanisms of Cell-Matrix Crosstalk (MAPEX): An Interdisciplinary and Systems Approach towards Understanding Thoracic Aortic Disease. Biomedicines, 11(8), Article 2095. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines11082095
    • Wang, R., Damanik, F., Kuhnt, T., Jaminon, A., Hafeez, S., Liu, H., Ippel, H., Dijkstra, P. J., Bouvy, N., Schurgers, L., ten Cate, A. T., Dias, A., Moroni, L., & Baker, M. B. (2023). Biodegradable Poly(ester) Urethane Acrylate Resins for Digital Light Processing: From Polymer Synthesis to 3D Printed Tissue Engineering Constructs. Advanced Healthcare Materials, 12(17), Article 2202648. https://doi.org/10.1002/adhm.202202648
    • van Kuijk, K., McCracken, I. R., Tillie, R. J. H. A., Asselberghs, S. E. J., Kheder, D. A., Muitjens, S., Jin, H., Taylor, R. S., Schreur, R. W., Kuppe, C., Dobie, R., Ramachandran, P., Gijbels, M. J., Temmerman, L., Kirkwoord, P. M., Luyten, J., Li, Y. M., Noels, H., Goossens, P., ... Sluimer, J. C. (2023). Human and murine fibroblast single-cell transcriptomics reveals fibroblast clusters are differentially affected by ageing and serum cholesterol. Cardiovascular Research, 119(7), 1509-1523. https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvad016