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New driver of atherosclerosis offers potential as therapeutic target
Date:6/19/2014

one estrogen to protect against the development and progression of atherosclerosis. By blocking estrogen receptors, 27HC prevents the beneficial effects of estrogen and promotes atherosclerosis.

"When 27HC is present, estrogen's protective effects are only observed at very high levels of the hormone," said Dr. Shaul, holder of the Associates First Capital Corporation Distinguished Chair in Pediatrics. "This result may explain why hormone therapy with estrogen does not provide cardiovascular benefit in women with pre-existing atherosclerosis, in which 27HC is abundant in the vascular wall."

Probing further into the underlying mechanisms, the researchers discovered that 27HC triggers inflammation in the arterial wall, a key step in the establishment of atherosclerotic plaques. This detrimental effect was characterized by exaggerated production of molecules that drive inflammation, called cytokines, and enhanced attachment on the arterial wall of immune cells known as macrophages. It is the recruitment of macrophages that then accumulate lipids (such as cholesterol) that triggers the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.

"Although statins have had a dramatic impact on cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, we still need complementary methods to combat atherosclerosis," Dr. Shaul said. "Targeting 27HC, either by lowering the levels of this compound or by inhibiting its actions, could potentially provide a complementary approach to preventing vascular disease."


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Contact: Remekca Owens
remekca.owens@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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