Regenerative Medicine Utrecht

Joost Sluijter, PhD

RMCU, UMC Utrecht

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In 2000, Joost Sluijter received his MSc degree Medical Biology at the University Utrecht after which he was appointed to The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) as a PhD student at the Experimental Cardiology Laboratory. In 2004, he successfully defended his PhD thesis “Collagen turnover in arterial disease”. He continued his interest in the involvement ofproteases in atherosclerosis as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Surgery, Indiana University-Purdue University, in Indianapolis, USA.

In January 2006, Joost Sluijter started as a postdoctoral researcher in the department of cardiology (Utrecht) in the somatic stem cell program to gain more insight in the differentiation capacity of adult human CMPCs and the use of cell therapy in cardiac disease. In this line, he started to explore the role of microRNA regulation during cardiac injury and potential use for regeneration. Since March 2008, he is leading his research group in the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU) that is focused on cardiac regeneration. They focus on different approaches that can lead to improved recovery and diagnosis of cardiac tissue upon injury.


In my research group, we focus on stimulating cardiac regeneration, thereby using approaches that can lead to improved recovery of cardiac tissue upon injury and improve the diagnosis of acute myocardial damage. In recent years, we identified miRNAs that can push cell lineage specifications and how we could improve progenitor cell transplantation, specifically improving local delivery and cell retentions. This was in close collaborations with Domian (Harvard), Sussman (San Diego State University), and Mercola (Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute). My group substantially improved cell delivery to the myocardium, from which we also realized that most of the injected cell action was due to the potential paracrine actions. My group has therefore started to study the use of secreted exosomes by these cells as a novel approach to induce cardiac repair and aim to create a potential of-the-shelf therapy.We have also identified several microRNAs that could be used as a direct therapeutic after myocardial damage has occured. Among them, miR-100 (Circulation 2011) and miR-214 for angiogenesis (CardioVascRes 2012), and miR-25 for heart failure (Nature 2014). These potent targets need smart delivery strategies to prevent side-effects; this directly lead me to initiate the BMM-LUST program that uses nano-medicine for targeted delivery. BMM-LUST made use of polymer-based delivery routes; the next leap in targeted delivery, I believe, lies in a natural carrier system. At this stage these polymer-based delivery routes are easily outperformed by the natural carrier system that transport biologicals between cells, called exosomes. My enthusiasm for introducing innovative molecular approaches and new therapeutic strategies, and my wide experiences in progenitor cell biology and preclinical animal model testing for cardiac injury will ensure that this research can go quickly from basic discoveries to preclinical testing in patient relevant animal models.

Selected Literature
Pubmed search: Sluijter J

  1. Joost P.G. Sluijter, Patrick van Vliet, Alain van Mil, Corina HG Metz, Pieter A.F. Doevendans, Marie-José Goumans. microRNA-1 and 499 regulate differentiation and proliferation in human-derived cardiomyocyte progenitor cells. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 2010;30:859-868.
  2. Epicardial application of cardiac progenitor cells in a 3D-printed gelatin/hyaluronic acid patch preserves cardiac function after myocardial infarction. Gaetani R, Feyen DA, Verhage V, Slaats R, Messina E, Christman KL, Giacomello A, Doevendans PA, Sluijter JP. Biomaterials. 2015 Aug;61:339-48
  3. Alain van Mil, Sebastian Grundmann, Marie-José Goumans, Zhiyong Lei, Martinus I. Oerlemans, Sridevi Jaksani, Pieter A. Doevendans, Joost P. Sluijter. MicroRNA-214 Inhibits Angiogenesis by Targeting Quaking and Reducing Angiogenic Growth Factor Release. Cardiovascular Research 2012 Mar 15;93(4):655-65.
  4. Zwetsloot PP, Végh AM, Jansen Of Lorkeers SJ, van Hout GP, Currie GL, Sena ES, Gremmels H, Buikema JW, Goumans MJ, Macleod MR, Doevendans PA, Chamuleau SA, Sluijter JP. Cardiac Stem Cell Treatment in Myocardial Infarction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Preclinical Studies. Circ Res. 2016 Apr 15;118(8):1223-32.
  5. Christine Wahlquist, Dongtak Jeong, Agustin Rojas-Muñoz, Changwon Kho, Ahyoung Lee, Shinichi Mitsuyama, Alain van Mil, Woo Jin Park, Joost P. G. Sluijter, Pieter A. Doevendans, Roger J. Hajjar, and Mark Mercola. Inhibition of miR-25 Improves Cardiac Contractility in the Failing Heart. Nature. 2014 Apr 24;508(7497):531-5.
  6. van den Akker F, Feyen DA, van den Hoogen P, van Laake LW, van Eeuwijk EC, Hoefer I, Pasterkamp G, Chamuleau SA, Grundeman PF, Doevendans PA, Sluijter JP. Intramyocardial stem cell injection: go(ne) with the flow. Eur Heart J. 2016 Feb 24. pii: ehw056.

Joost Sluijter, PhD FESC
Regenerative Medicine Center, UMC Utrecht
+31 88 75 575 67

Mailing address for correspondence
University Medical Center, Room number G03.550
PO Box 85500
3508 GA Utrecht
The Netherlands