Drs. K.F. Smit MD


Drs. K.F. Smit MD

PhD student
Main activities
Focus of research

Organ protection by noble gas helium in humans

Experimental studies demonstrated helium can protect the myocardium from ischemia/reperfusion damage by inducing preconditioning in animals. We investigate whether helium is able to induce preconditioning in humans.

  • Helium induced early and late preconditioning in human endothelium in vivo (HELP) study. Ischemic or anesthetic preconditioning protects human endothelium against Ischemia/Reperfusion (I/R) injury in healthy volunteers. Experimental data show that the non-anesthetic noble gas helium induced preconditioning and attenuates infarct size after coronary occlusion. We hypothesised that helium inhalation induces preconditioning in human endothelium in vivo, thereby attenuating endothelial dysfunction after ischemia/reperfusion of the human forearm fro 20 minutes. In this study we showed Helium induces early and late preconditioning of human endothelium in vivo. Helium is a non-anesthetic, non-toxic gas without any hemodynamic side effects that can be applied to patients in clinical I/R situations. We postulate that inhalation of helium may be an instrument to induce endothelial preconditioning in patients in all clinical I/R situations.
  • Helium induced pre- and/or postconditioning in patient undergoing coronary arterie bypass surgery (HIPP-CABG). Volatile anesthetics (sevoflurane) can induce preconditioning in humans undergoing CABG surgery, resulting in lower troponin release and shorter hospital and ICU length of stay. It was also shown that 2 x 5 minutes of sevoflurane prior to aortic cross clamping induces translocation of Protein Kinase C from cytosolic to nuclear fraction, in samples taken from atrial tissue before and after preconditioning. We hypothesised that helium induces pre and/or postconditioning in humans undergoing CABG surgery. From atrial tissue samples taken during surgery we want to examine whether signalling pathway molecules known to be involved in sevoflurane- and xenon- induced preconditioning, play a role in helium-induced pre and/or postconditioning.

Possible effect of Helium on apoptosis in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVEC) 

  • HUVEC are frequently used as an in vitro model for investigations on endothelial cell damage. Programmed cell death of these cells, called apoptosis, plays a major role in the development and progression of common cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis and is also involved in tissue damage after myocardial ischemia. We want to investigate whether preconditioning with the noble gas helium is able to reduce apoptosis induced by H2O2 and oxygen glucose deprivation in HUVEC. We will measure different apoptotic markers in both adherent cells and in microparticles in collaboration with the laboratory of experimental clinical chemistry (LEKC).