Thrombosis and inflammation – a dangerous liaison?

21 Jun 2021

In his contribution to the Health Lectures, LMU cardiologist Steffen Massberg explains how interactions between inflammation and the system that controls blood clotting can lead to life-threatening complications.

© LMU Klinikum

Inflammatory reactions and blood clotting have traditionally been viewed as separate and distinct processes. However, researchers have now shown that the two pathways are functionally closely linked. In essence, each represents a natural reaction to physiological imbalances, and each is vital for the restoration of physiological equilibrium and consequently for health maintenance. – But they can also cooperate to precipitate a self-amplifying – and often fatal – series of events.

On 22. June 2021, in his contribution to LMU’s series of Health Lectures, Prof. Dr. med. Steffen Massberg (Director of Medical Clinic I at the LMU Medical Center) will explain how the two processes are entwined with one another. Inflammation is primarily a protective response to acute infections, but it also plays a role in the repair of sterile tissue damage, such as that associated with atherosclerosis. On the other hand, the physiological formation of blood clots (thromboses) serves to minimize the blood loss caused by physical injury. Massberg will outline how the two processes interact, and under what circumstances dysregulation of their normal functions can result in the initiation and progression of disease states.


Prof. Dr. med. Steffen Massberg

Thrombosis and inflammation – a dangerous liaison?

Tue: 22 June 2021, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Register here


The lecture will be held in German. A recording with English subtitles will be published shortly after the event.

Three questions for Professor Steffen Massberg

Clot formation and inflammation can have serious consequences for health, even though they both represent intrinsic responses to perturbations, and normally serve to restore health. Why are they so important?

Clot formation is essential in order to avoid major blood loss following physical injury and disruption of tissue integrity. Inflammatory processes serve to eliminate invasive pathogens, and by removing infected and damaged tissues they promote the restoration of physiological equilibrium.

How are the two processes interlinked?

Inflammation can activate thrombotic signaling cascades that promote clot formation, while thrombotic processes can trigger inflammatory reactions. This form of cooperative interaction is beneficial in the context of physical injury, since both systems – clot formation and inflammation – contribute to the fight against invasive pathogens and restrict blood loss in the vicinity of sites of injury.

When does the interaction between clot formation and inflammation become problematic?

The interaction between the two systems becomes problematic in cases where it occurs at the wrong time, in the wrong place or at the wrong level. Venous thromboses are one example. In that case, hyperactive inflammation reactions in the veins result in the activation of signaling cascades that promote the formation of blood clots – in the absence of acute infection or injury (inappropriate immunothrombosis). Similarly, inappropriate, excessive or sterile immunothrombosis plays a central role in the damage caused by myocardial infarction and stroke, and in the thrombotic complications that can arise in the context of infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Prof. Dr. med. Steffen Massberg is Director of Medical Clinic I at the LMU Medical Center, and holds the Chair of Internal Medicine with a Focus on Cardiology. His primary research interests are related to aspects of the immune response in the context of inflammatory diseases.

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