DALLAS June 19, 2014 A new driver of atherosclerosis has been identified by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center. This molecule, known as 27HC (27-hydroxycholesterol), has been found to exacerbate the development of the condition, and may prove to be a promising therapeutic target.
Atherosclerosis is characterized by the build-up of lesions (or plaques) formed from lipids, such as cholesterol and fatty acids. Ruptured plaques can partially or completely block blood flow, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke. A member of a larger family of molecules known as oxysterols, 27HC is produced during the normal breakdown of cholesterol and is known to accumulate in atherosclerotic plaques.
The new study, conducted by a team of UT Southwestern researchers led by senior author Dr. Philip Shaul, sought to identify the impact of 27HC on atherosclerosis. Dr. Shaul is Vice Chair for Research and Professor of Pediatrics, and Director of the Center for Pulmonary and Vascular Biology at UT Southwestern. The study's findings first-authored by Dr. Michihisa Umetani, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology were recently published in Cell Metabolism.
Using animal models and other strategies, the researchers found that 27HC promotes the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, causing a doubling in the accumulation of lipids in the arterial wall. 27HC achieves this buildup through mechanisms mediated by estrogen receptors, which normally enable the horm
|Contact: Remekca Owens|
UT Southwestern Medical Center