"The VascAgeNet STSM offered me the opportunity to acquire specific knowledge in the vascular field and to start a new collaboration between different investigators around the EU."
"Thanks to the VascAgeNet STSM, I had the opportunity to participate in the activities of the vascular lab at INSERM and to acquire knowledge about new techniques."
"I am thankful to VascAgeNet for providing me with this opportunity to visit UPV, bring in new ideas, and foster a collaboration between my home and host institutions."
"As our research interests (personally, and as a CVEG lab) with Dr Triantafyllou are quite similar, there is room for more collaborations in the future. I’m very excited to have carved the pathway for this with the STSM."
Alicia Del Saz Lara at National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Paris (05-07/2021)
“Thanks to Dr. Cavero-Redondo I started researching in the field of vascular health. The VascAgeNet STSM offered me the opportunity to acquire new knowledge on this topic, as well as to meet researchers such as Rosa Maria Bruno, who has been the link for future collaborations of both research groups. I am very excited and eager to continue working in this world of vascular health”
“I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the scientists whose publications and studies I follow, and this increased my faith in science and scientific research. I am very lucky to have such an opportunity in terms of both my career and personal development, and I thank everyone very much.”
Detailed reports of performed STSMs:
Thanks to the Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) of the VascAgeNet COST Action I had the opportunity to participate in the activities of the vascular lab at INSERM and to acquire knowledge about new techniques for the assessment of vascular ageing on small- and medium-sized arteries, and in particular Ultra-High Frequency Ultrasound (UHF-US), an advanced technique that make it possible for the first time to non-invasively and accurately assess hand vasculature thanks to frequencies up to 70 MHz, and 3-D ultrasound (tUS).
The application of these techniques is valuable for the evaluation of hand vascular involvement in Systemic Sclerosis (SSc), a disorder characterized by alterations of the microvasculature, including digital ulcers and Raynaud’s phenomenon, in a protocol currently ongoing at INSERM.
During this STSM, images of the digital arteries of 15 SSc patients were processed thanks to a validated high-precision contour tracking algorithm for the estimation of structural and elasticity parameters of digital arteries (diameter, distension and border thickness) by ultrasound image processing.
The study and monitoring of structural parameters of the digital arteries could be relevant in the exploration of reliable imaging biomarkers for the diagnosis and pathogenesis of SSc as well as for the control of the therapies administered to patients and the related effects on the progression of the disease.
Furthermore, the results achieved thanks to this STSM will allow to evaluate the possible connection between peripheral and systemic vascular diseases.
Further information is available at the website https://vascagenet.eu/short-term-scientific-missions
Alicia Del Saz Lara performed a three-months STSM at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Paris, under the supervision of Dr. Rosa Maria Bruno. The main object of the STSM was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to analyze the association between pulse wave velocity and incident hypertension. Additionally, she participated in activities that took place at INSERM during her stay in Paris.
The work was developed as a result of the combination of the expertise of both groups, on the one hand the clinical knowledge of arterial stiffness and hypertension by the INSERM group of Paris, France, and on the other hand the expertise in performing of systematic reviews and meta-analysis of the CESS group of Cuenca, Spain.
After a careful electronic search carried out in the principal electronic databases, two independent reviewers examined inclusion and exclusion criteria of each selected longitudinal study. The main information of included studies were extracted, and the meta-analysis was performed according to advanced and up-to-date statistical technologies.
Results demonstrated that increased pulse wave velocity, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure are all predictors of incident hypertension in normotensive adult subjects, with similar independent predictive value. This analysis is projected to be the first systematic review and meta-analysis of arterial stiffness and baseline blood pressure in the normotensive range as predictors of incident hypertension. A paper is currently under writing.
“Thanks to Dr. Cavero-Redondo I started researching in the field of vascular health. The VascAgeNet STSM offered me the opportunity to acquire new knowledge on this topic, as well as to meet researchers such as Rosa Maria Bruno, who has been the link for future collaborations of both research groups. I am very excited and eager to continue working in this world of vascular health”, said Alicia.
Her stay in Paris generated future collaborations to establish Early Vascular Ageing (EVA) as a construct measurable by clinicians. A series of meetings are pending between the INSERM and CESS groups to establish further research projects.
Dr Peter Charlton spent 5 days at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), hosted by Prof Vaidotas Marozas, Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering. Vaidotas and Peter are members of VascAgeNet’s Working Group 3. They’ve previously collaborated on several projects including a VascAgeNet review of techniques to assess vascular age from the photoplethysmogram (the PPG – the pulse wave signal measured by smartwatches and activity trackers). During this STSM, Vaidotas and Peter worked with colleagues at KTU towards harmonising photoplethysmography-based techniques for the assessment of vascular ageing.
First, Peter and colleagues worked on developing PPG signal processing techniques for the assessment of vascular ageing. Specific tasks included: designing approaches to estimate blood pressure from the PPG pulse wave signal; developing PPG signal quality assessment tools which could help ensure that vascular ageing assessments performed in daily life are reliable; and investigating how well PPG signal processing algorithms perform with different types of sensors. This involved sharing knowledge, data, and signal processing algorithms.
Second, Peter and colleagues discussed the designs of two ongoing clinical studies at KTU and at the University of Cambridge. They identified ways to harmonise the methods used in the two studies so that they provide similar datasets. It is hoped that this will enable the two groups to test the generalisability of findings across the two datasets.
Third, Peter and colleagues established a pipeline for simulating PPG signals containing artifact and arrhythmias. This involved using KTU’s tools for simulating PPG signals alongside data collected at the University of Cambridge. It is hoped that this will lead to the creation of a dataset of simulated PPG signals representative of those that would be measured from older adults in the community.
Peter received very warm hospitality from Vaidotas and his colleagues at KTU, sharing meals and sightseeing together. This helped Peter get to know his new colleagues well during a short space of time, establishing relationships which will enable them to continue to work together remotely.