Erik Biessen


Prof. Erik Biessen graduated with specialisations in Physical and Bio-Chemistry at Wageningen University. After a series of post-doctoral fellowships at Leiden University, in the labs of Prof. Van Boom (Organic Chemistry; glycolipid synthesis) and Prof. Van Berkel (Biopharmaceutics; drug/gene targeting), he was in 1994, selected as one of 6 post-docs the Molecular Cardiology programme (a competitive 12 year career development track of the Netherlands Heart Foundation. In 2001, he received the NWO innovative research premium incentive (Vidi) and in 2003 the NHS Established Investigator award, to be appointed Professor of Therapeutic Gene Modulation in 2005. In 2007, he moved to Maastricht University to lead the Experimental Vascular Pathology group. Prof Biessen has a part time appointment at the Institute for Molecular Cardiovascular Research, RWTH Aachen.

Erik Biessen’s current passion is to deploy systems medicine approaches, to understand and define critical innate immune pathways in human atherosclerosis and cardiometabolic comorbidities and to validate the relevance of these processes for disease progression by intervention studies in in vitro and in vivo models. Hereto, the group has developed a new high content microscopy based functionomics platform to measure macrophage functional profile at unprecedented resolution and speed and a technology pipeline for spatial mapping of macrophage phenotype and molecular context. Keywords of his research: systems medicine, bioinformatics, multispectral analysis, macrophage biology. Dr Biessen is partner of several H2020-ITN (EvolUtion, INTRICARE, CareSyan), and two Interreg programmes and is coordinator of H2020/ERA-CVD project (AtheroMacHete).

Department of Pathology
Verheylaan 10, 6229 HX Maastricht
Room number: 5M01.032
T: +31(0)43 387 46 35

  • 2020
    • van Geffen, J. P., Swieringa, F., van Kuijk, K., Tullemans, B. M. E., Solari, F. A., Peng, B., Clemetson, K. J., Farndale, R. W., Dubois, L. J., Sickmann, A., Zahedi, R. P., Ahrends, R., Biessen, E. A. L., Sluimer, J. C., Heemskerk, J. W. M., & Kuijpers, M. J. E. (2020). Mild hyperlipidemia in mice aggravates platelet responsiveness in thrombus formation and exploration of platelet proteome and lipidome. Scientific Reports, 10(1), [21407].
    • Chteinberg, E., Wetzels, S., Gerritsen, W., Temmerman, L., van den Oord, J., Biessen, E., Kurz, A. K., Winnepenninckx, V., Zenke, M., Speel, E-J., & Hausen, A. Z. (2020). Navitoclax combined with Alpelisib effectively inhibits Merkel cell carcinoma cell growth in vitro. Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, 12, [1758835920975621].
    • Furmanik, M., Chatrou, M., van Gorp, R., Akbulut, A., Willems, B., Schmidt, H., van Eys, G., Bochaton-Piallat, M-L., Proudfoot, D., Biessen, E., Hedin, U., Perisic, L., Mees, B., Shanahan, C., Reutelingsperger, C., & Schurgers, L. (2020). Reactive Oxygen-Forming Nox5 Links Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Phenotypic Switching and Extracellular Vesicle-Mediated Vascular Calcification. Circulation Research, 127(7), 911-927.
    • Cao, J., Goossens, P., Martin-Lorenzo, M., Dewez, F., Claes, B. S. R., Biessen, E. A. L., Heeren, R. M. A., & Balluff, B. (2020). Atheroma-Specific Lipids in ldlr(-/-) and apoe(-/-) Mice Using 2D and 3D Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 31(9), 1825-1832.
    • Zhang, H., Bredewold, E. O. W., Vreeken, D., Duijs, J. M. G. J., de Boer, H. C., Kraaijeveld, A. O., Jukema, J. W., Pijls, N. H., Waltenberger, J., Biessen, E. A. L., van der Veer, E. P., van Zonneveld, A. J., & van Gils, J. M. (2020). Prediction Power on Cardiovascular Disease of Neuroimmune Guidance Cues Expression by Peripheral Blood Monocytes Determined by Machine-Learning Methods. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(17), [6364].
    • Kerkhofs, D., van Hagen, B. T., Milanova, I. V., Schell, K. J., van Essen, H., Wijnands, E., Goossens, P., Blankesteijn, W. M., Unger, T., Prickaerts, J., Biessen, E. A., van Oostenbrugge, R. J., & Foulquier, S. (2020). Pharmacological depletion of microglia and perivascular macrophages prevents Vascular Cognitive Impairment in Ang II-induced hypertension. Theranostics, 10(21), 9512-9527.
    • Peters, L. J. F., Biessen, E. A. L., Hohl, M., Weber, C., van der Vorst, E. P. C., & Santovito, D. (2020). Small Things Matter: Relevance of MicroRNAs in Cardiovascular Disease. Frontiers in physiology, 11, [793].
    • van der Vorst, E. P. C., Daissormont, I., Aslani, M., Seijkens, T., Wijnands, E., Lutgens, E., Duchene, J., Santovito, D., Doering, Y., Halvorsen, B., Aukrust, P., Weber, C., Hoepken, U. E., & Biessen, E. A. L. (2020). Interruption of the CXCL13/CXCR5 Chemokine Axis Enhances Plasma IgM Levels and Attenuates Atherosclerosis Development. Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 120(2), 344-347.
    • van der Vorst, E. P. C., Biessen, E. A. L., & Donners, M. M. P. C. (2020). Letter by van der Vorst et al Regarding Article, "Anti-Inflammatory Effects of HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) in Macrophages Predominate Over Proinflammatory Effects in Atherosclerotic Plaques". Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, 40(2), E31-E32.
    • Giamouridis, D., Gao, M. H., Lai, N. C., Guo, T., Miyanohara, A., Blankesteijn, W. M., Biessen, E. A. L., & Hammond, H. K. (2020). Urocortin 2 Gene Transfer Improves Heart Function in Aged Mice. Molecular Therapy, 28(1), 180-188.
  • 2019
    • Donners, M. M. P. C., & Biessen, E. A. L. (2019). SCRIBbling the role of endothelial polarity in atherosclerosis. Cardiovascular Research, 115(14), 1937-1939.
    • Fontaine, M. A. C., Westra, M. M., Bot, I., Jin, H., Franssen, A. J. P. M., Bot, M., de Jager, S. C. A., Dzhagalov, I., He, Y-W., van Vlijmen, B. J. M., Gijbels, M. J. J., Reutelingsperger, C. P., van Berkel, T. J. C., Sluimer, J. C., Temmerman, L., & Biessen, E. A. L. (2019). Low human and murine Mcl-1 expression leads to a pro-apoptotic plaque phenotype enriched in giant-cells. Scientific Reports, 9, [14547].
    • Montserrat-de la Paz, S., Naranjo, M. C., Millan-Linares, M. C., Lopez, S., Abia, R., Biessen, E. A. L., Muriana, F. J. G., & Bermudez, B. (2019). Monounsaturated Fatty Acids in a High-Fat Diet and Niacin Protect from White Fat Dysfunction in the Metabolic Syndrome. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 63(19), [1900425].
    • Korporaal, S. J. A., Molenaar, T. J. M., Lutters, B. C. H., Meurs, I., Drost-Verhoef, S., Kuiper, J., van Berkel, T. J. C., & Biessen, E. A. L. (2019). Peptide Antagonists for P-selectin Discriminate between Sulfatide-Dependent Platelet Aggregation and PSGL-1-Mediated Cell Adhesion. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(8), [1266].
    • Jin, H., Goossens, P., Karel, J., Daemen, M., Sluimer, J., & Biessen, E. (2019). Integrative Multi-Omics Analysis Of Human Atherosclerosis Reveals An Intraplaque Bleeding Associated Network, Which Offers Better Prediction Of Disease Stage. Atherosclerosis, 287, e63-e63. [EAS19-0625].
    • Van Kuijk, K., Theelen, T., Demandt, J., Marsch, E., Gijbels, M., Jin, H., Reutelingsperger, C., Cosemans, J., Schurgers, L., Carmeliet, P., Biessen, E., Daemen, M., & Sluimer, J. (2019). MYELOID PHD2 KNOCKDOWN DRIVES MACROPHAGE APOPTOSIS AND PARACRINE FIBROBLAST/SMOOTH MUSCLE CELL COLLAGEN SECRETION LEADING TO ATHEROSCLEROTIC PLAQUE FIBROSIS. Atherosclerosis, 287, E10-E10.
    • Giamouridis, D., Gao, M. H., Lai, N. C., Tan, Z., Kim, Y. C., Guo, T., Miyanohara, A., Blankesteijn, M. W., Biessen, E. A. L., & Hammond, H. K. (2019). Urocortin 3 Gene Transfer Increases Function of the Failing Murine Heart. Human Gene Therapy, 30(1), 10-20.
  • 2018
    • Bijnen, M., Beelen, N., Wetzels, S., van De Gaar, J., Vroomen, M., Wijnands, E., Scheijen, J. L., van de Waarenburg, M. P. H., Gijbels, M. J., Cleutjens, J. P., Biessen, E. A. L., Stehouwer, C. D. A., Schalkwijk, C. G., & Wouters, K. (2018). RAGE deficiency does not affect non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and atherosclerosis in Western type diet-fed Ldlr(-/-) mice. Scientific Reports, 8, [15256].
    • Bijnen, M., Josefs, T., Cuijpers, I., Maalsen, C. J., van de Gaar, J., Vroomen, M., Wijnands, E., Rensen, S. S., Greve, J. W. M., Hofker, M. H., Biessen, E. A. L., Stehouwer, C. D. A., Schalkwijk, C. G., & Wouters, K. (2018). Adipose tissue macrophages induce hepatic neutrophil recruitment and macrophage accumulation in mice. Gut, 67(7), 1317-1327.
    • Wetzels, S., Bijnen, M., Wijnands, E., Biessen, E. A. L., Schalkwijk, C. G., & Wouters, K. (2018). Characterization of Immune Cells in Human Adipose Tissue by Using Flow Cytometry. Journal of visualized experiment, (133), [e57319 ].
    • Maracle, C. X., Agca, R., Helder, B., Meeuwsen, J. A. L., Niessen, H. W. M., Biessen, E. A. L., de Winther, M. P. J., de Jager, S. C. A., Nurmohamed, M. T., & Tas, S. W. (2018). Noncanonical NF-kappa B signaling in microvessels of atherosclerotic lesions is associated with inflammation, atheromatous plaque morphology and myocardial infarction. Atherosclerosis, 270, 33-41.
    • Giamouridis, D., Gao, M., Lai, N. C., Tan, Z., Kim, B. C., Guo, T., Miyanohara, A., Blankesteijn, M., Biessen, E., & Hammond, H. K. (2018). Effects of Urocortin 2 Versus Urocortin 3 Gene Transfer on Left Ventricular Function and Glucose Disposal. JACC: Basic to Translational Science, 3(2), 249-264.
  • 2017
    • Nagenborg, J., Goossens, P., Biessen, E. A. L., & Donners, M. M. P. C. (2017). Heterogeneity of atherosclerotic plaque macrophage origin, phenotype and functions: Implications for treatment. European Journal of Pharmacology, 816, 14-24.
    • Kusters, P., Seijkens, T., Buerger, C., Legein, B., Winkels, H., Gijbels, M., Barthels, C., Bennett, R., Beckers, L., Atzler, D., Biessen, E., Brocker, T., Weber, C., Gerdes, N., & Lutgenst, E. (2017). Constitutive CD40 Signaling in Dendritic Cells Limits Atherosclerosis by Provoking Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Ensuing Cholesterol Malabsorption. American Journal of Pathology, 187(12), 2912-2919.
    • Biessen, E. A. L., & Wouters, K. (2017). Macrophage complexity in human atherosclerosis: opportunities for treatment?Current Opinion in Lipidology, 28(5), 419-426.
    • Theodorou, K., van der Vorst, E. P. C., Gijbels, M. J., Wolfs, I. M. J., Jeurissen, M., Theelen, T. L., Sluimer, J. C., Wijnands, E., Cleutjens, J. P., Li, Y., Jansen, Y., Weber, C., Ludwig, A., Bentzon, J. F., Bartsch, J. W., Biessen, E. A. L., & Donners, M. M. P. C. (2017). Whole body and hematopoietic ADAM8 deficiency does not influence advanced atherosclerotic lesion development, despite its association with human plaque progression. Scientific Reports, 7, [11670].
    • Gajjala, P. R., Jankowski, V., Heinze, G., Bilo, G., Zanchetti, A., Noels, H., Liehn, E., Perco, P., Schulz, A., Delles, C., Kork, F., Biessen, E., Narkiewicz, K., Kawecka-Jaszcz, K., Floege, J., Soranna, D., Zidek, W., & Jankowski, J. (2017). Proteomic-Biostatistic Integrated Approach for Finding the Underlying Molecular Determinants of Hypertension in Human Plasma. Hypertension, 70(2), 412-419.
    • van der Vorst, E. P. C., Theodorou, K., Biessen, E. A. L., & Donners, M. M. P. C. (2017). Disease- or Storage-Associated Structural Modifications Are Unlikely to Explain HDL Pro-inflammatory Effects on Macrophages. Cell Metabolism, 26(1), 4-5.
    • Bucerius, J., Barthel, H., Tiepolt, S., Werner, P., Sluimer, J. C., Wildberger, J. E., Patt, M., Hesse, S., Gertz, H-J., Biessen, E. A. L., Mottaghy, F. M., & Sabri, O. (2017). Feasibility of in vivo (18)F-florbetaben PET/MR imaging of human carotid amyloid-beta. European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, 44(7), 1119-1128.
    • Temmerman, L., Westra, M. M., Bot, I., van Vlijmen, B. J. M., Van Bree, N., Bot, M., Habets, K. L. L., Keulers, T. G. H., van der Vlag, J., Cotter, T. G., van Berkel, T. J. C., & Biessen, E. A. L. (2017). Leukocyte Bim deficiency does not impact atherogenesis in ldlr(-/-) mice, despite a pronounced induction of autoimmune inflammation. Scientific Reports, 7, [3086].
    • Bermudez, B., Dahl, T. B., Medina, I., Groeneweg, M., Holm, S., Montserrat-de la Paz, S., Rousch, M., Otten, J., Herias, V., Varela, L. M., Ranheim, T., Yndestad, A., Ortega-Gomez, A., Abia, R., Nagy, L., Aukrust, P., Muriana, F. J. G., Halvorsen, B., & Leonardus Biessen, E. A. (2017). Leukocyte Overexpression of Intracellular NAMPT Attenuates Atherosclerosis by Regulating PPAR gamma-Dependent Monocyte Differentiation and Function. Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, 37(6), 1157-1167.
    • Haitjema, S., Meddens, C. A., van der Laan, S. W., Kofink, D., Harakalova, M., Tragante, V., Asl, H. F., van Setten, J., Brandt, M. M., Bis, J. C., O'Donnell, C., Cheng, C., Hoefer, I. E., Waltenberger, J., Biessen, E., Jukema, J. W., Doevendans, P. A. F. M., Nieuwenhuis, E. E. S., Erdmann, J., ... METASTROKE Grp Int Stroke Genetics (2017). Additional Candidate Genes for Human Atherosclerotic Disease Identified Through Annotation Based on Chromatin Organization. Circulation : Cardiovascular Genetics, 10(2), [001664].
    • Rademakers, T., van der Vorst, E. P. C., Daissormont, I. T. M. N., Otten, J. J. T., Theodorou, K., Theelen, T. L., Gijbels, M., Anisimov, A., Nurmi, H., Lindeman, J. H. N., Schober, A., Heeneman, S., Alitalo, K., & Biessen, E. A. L. (2017). Adventitial lymphatic capillary expansion impacts on plaque T cell accumulation in atherosclerosis. Scientific Reports, 7, [45263].
    • Wouters, K., Gaens, K., Bijnen, M., Verboven, K., Jocken, J., Wetzels, S., Wijnands, E., Hansen, D., van Greevenbroek, M., Duijvestijn, A. M., Biessen, E. A. L., Blaak, E. E., Stehouwer, C. D. A., & Schalkwijk, C. G. (2017). Circulating classical monocytes are associated with CD11c(+) macrophages in human visceral adipose tissue. Scientific Reports, 7, [42665].
    • Maffia, P., Doering, Y., Biessen, E. A. L., & Mallat, Z. (2017). Commentary: Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase-expressing aortic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells Protect against atherosclerosis by Induction of regulatory T Cells. Frontiers in Immunology, 8, [140].
    • van der Vorst, E. P. C., Theodorou, K., Wu, Y., Hoeksema, M. A., Goossens, P., Bursill, C. A., Aliyev, T., Huitema, L. F. A., Tas, S. W., Wolfs, I. M. J., Kuijpers, M. J. E., Gijbels, M. J., Schalkwijk, C. G., Koonen, D. P. Y., Abdollahi-Roodsaz, S., McDaniels, K., Wang, C-C., Leitges, M., Lawrence, T., ... Donners, M. M. P. C. (2017). High-Density Lipoproteins Exert Pro-inflammatory Effects on Macrophages via Passive Cholesterol Depletion and PKC-NF-kappa B/STAT1-IRF1 Signaling. Cell Metabolism, 25(1), 197-207.
    • van der Vorst, E. P. C., Theodorou, K., Biessen, E. A. L., & Donners, M. M. P. C. (2017). HDL and macrophages: explaining the clinical failures and advancing HDL-based therapeutics in cardiovascular diseases?Expert review of cardiovascular therapy, 15(5), 343-344.
  • 2016
    • Versteylen, M. O., Manca, M., Joosen, I. A., Schmidt, D. E., Das, M., Hofstra, L., Crijns, H. J., Biessen, E. A., & Kietselaer, B. L. (2016). CC chemokine ligands in patients presenting with stable chest pain: association with atherosclerosis and future cardiovascular events. Netherlands Heart Journal, 24(12), 722-729.
    • Marsch, E., Demandt, J. A. F., Theelen, T. L., Tullemans, B. M. E., Wouters, K., Boon, M. R., van Dijk, T. H., Gijbels, M. J., Dubois, L. J., Meex, S. J. R., Mazzone, M., Hung, G., Fisher, E. A., Biessen, E. A. L., Daemen, M. J. A. P., Rensen, P. C. N., Carmeliet, P., Groen, A. K., & Sluimer, J. C. (2016). Deficiency of the oxygen sensor prolyl hydroxylase 1 attenuates hypercholesterolaemia, atherosclerosis, and hyperglycaemia. European Heart Journal, 37(39), 2993-2997.
    • Donners, M. M. P. C., Bai, L., Lutgens, S., Wijnands, E., Johnson, J., Schurgers, L. J., Liu, C-L., Daemen, M., Cleutjens, K. B. J. M., Shi, G-P., Biessen, E. A. L., & Heeneman, S. (2016). Cathepsin K Deficiency Prevents the Aggravated Vascular Remodeling Response to Flow Cessation in ApoE(-/-) Mice. PLOS ONE, 11(9), [e0162595].
    • Skarpengland, T., Holm, S., Scheffler, K., Gregersen, I., Dahl, T. B., Suganthan, R., Segers, F. M., Ostlie, I., Otten, J. J. T., Luna, L., Ketelhuth, D. F. J., Lundberg, A. M., Neurauter, C. G., Hildrestrand, G., Skjelland, M., Bjorndal, B., Svardal, A. M., Iversen, P. O., Hedin, U., ... Aukrust, P. (2016). Neil3-dependent base excision repair regulates lipid metabolism and prevents atherosclerosis in Apoe-deficient mice. Scientific Reports, 6, [28337].
    • Haasdijk, R. A., Den Dekker, W. K., Cheng, C., Tempel, D., Szulcek, R., Bos, F. L., Hermkens, D. M. A., Chrifi, I., Brandt, M. M., Van Dijk, C., Xu, Y. J., Van De Kamp, E. H. M., Blonden, L. A. J., Van Bezu, J., Sluimer, J. C., Biessen, E. A. L., Amerongen, G. P. V. N., & Duckers, H. J. (2016). THSD1 preserves vascular integrity and protects against intraplaque haemorrhaging in ApoE(-/-) mice. Cardiovascular Research, 110(1), 129-139.
    • de Bruin, R. G., Shiue, L., Prins, J., de Boer, H. C., Singh, A., Fagg, W. S., van Gils, J. M., Duijs, J. M. G. J., Katzman, S., Kraaijeveld, A. O., Bohringer, S., Leung, W. Y., Kielbasa, S. M., Donahue, J. P., van der Zande, P. H. J., Sijbom, R., van Alem, C. M. A., Bot, I., van Kooten, C., ... van der Veer, E. P. (2016). Quaking promotes monocyte differentiation into pro-atherogenic macrophages by controlling pre-mRNA splicing and gene expression. Nature Communications, 7, [10846].
    • Gray, S. P., Di Marco, E., Kennedy, K., Chew, P., Okabe, J., El-Osta, A., Calkin, A. C., Biessen, E. A. L., Touyz, R. M., Cooper, M. E., Schmidt, H. H. H. W., & Jandeleit-Dahm, K. A. M. (2016). Reactive Oxygen Species Can Provide Atheroprotection via NOX4-Dependent Inhibition of Inflammation and Vascular Remodeling. Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, 36(2), 295-307.
  • 2015
    • Halvorsen, B., Espeland, M. Z., Andersen, G. O., Yndestad, A., Sagen, E. L., Rashidi, A., Knudsen, E. C., Skjelland, M., Skagen, K. R., Krohg-Sorensen, K., Holm, S., Ritschel, V., Holven, K. B., Biessen, E. A. L., Aukrust, P., & Dahl, T. B. (2015). Increased expression of NAMPT in PBMC from patients with acute coronary syndrome and in inflammatory M1 macrophages. Atherosclerosis, 243(1), 204-210.
    • Legein, B., Janssen, E. M., Theelen, T. L., Gijbels, M. J., Walraven, J., Klarquist, J. S., Hennies, C. M., Wouters, K., Seijkens, T. T. P., Wijnands, E., Sluimer, J. C., Lutgens, E., Zenke, M., Hildner, K., Biessen, E. A. L., & Temmerman, L. (2015). Ablation of CD8 alpha(+) dendritic cell mediated cross-presentation does not impact atherosclerosis in hyperlipidemic mice. Scientific Reports, 5, [15414].
    • Medina, I., Cougoule, C., Drechsler, M., Bermudez, B., Koenen, R. R., Sluimer, J., Wolfs, I., Doering, Y., Herias, V., Gijbels, M., Bot, I., de Jager, S. C. A., Weber, C., Cleutjens, J., van Berkel, T. J. C., Sikkink, K-J., Mocsai, A., Maridonneau-Parini, I., Soehnlein, O., & Biessen, E. A. L. (2015). Hck/Fgr Kinase Deficiency Reduces Plaque Growth and Stability by Blunting Monocyte Recruitment and Intraplaque Motility. Circulation, 132(6), 490-501.
    • Theelen, T. L., Lappalainen, J. P., Sluimer, J. C., Gurzeler, E., Cleutjens, J. P., Gijbels, M. J., Biessen, E. A. L., Daemen, M. J. A. P., Alitalo, K., & Yla-Herttuala, S. (2015). Angiopoietin-2 blocking antibodies reduce early atherosclerotic plaque development in mice. Atherosclerosis, 241(2), 297-304.
    • Temmerman, L., & Biessen, E. A. L. (2015). Deadly tricks to combat atherosclerosis. Cardiovascular Research, 106(3), 345-347.
    • van der Vorst, E. P. C., Jeurissen, M., Wolfs, I. M. J., Keijbeck, A., Theodorou, K., Wijnands, E., Schurgers, L., Weber, S., Gijbels, M. J., Hamers, A. A. J., Dreymueller, D., Rose-John, S., de Winther, M. P. J., Ludwig, A., Saftig, P., Biessen, E. A. L., & Donners, M. M. P. C. (2015). Myeloid A Disintegrin and Metalloproteinase Domain 10 Deficiency Modulates Atherosclerotic Plaque Composition by Shifting the Balance from Inflammation toward Fibrosis. American Journal of Pathology, 185(4), 1145-1155.