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G proteins regulate remodelling of blood vessels
Date:11/13/2012

This press release is available in German.

Blood vessels are extremely dynamic: depending on the external conditions, they can adapt their permeability for nutrients, their contractility, and even their shape. Unlike cardiac muscle cells, for example, the smooth muscle cells in blood vessels demonstrate a high degree of plasticity, so they can specialise or multiply as required, even repairing damage to the vessel wall. This vascular remodelling is evidently precisely regulated. Disruptions are extremely significant in conditions such as atherosclerosis or high blood pressure. At the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, scientists conducting research on genetically modified mice have discovered how external signals regulate vascular remodelling at cell level. This has created an entirely new understanding of regulation, which could pave the way for new approaches in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases.

The walls of blood vessels consist of smooth muscle cells, elastic fibres, and endothelial cells, which line the interior surface of the vessel. The vessels change their permeability and contractility as required. If a blood vessel is damaged, existing smooth muscle cells can give rise to new specialised muscle cells to repair it. However, in the case of a vascular problem, this necessary and useful cell plasticity can have negative consequences. For example, if a coronary blood vessel is opened up with dilatation and stents via a catheter, muscle cell growth may cause it to narrow once again. In the common condition atherosclerosis or vascular calcification, too, remodelling processes lead to formation of the dreaded plaque. All these processes are regulated by hormones or neurotransmitters, some of which are released by cells and nerves in the vessel wall. Most of these vasoactive
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Contact: Stefan Offermanns
stefan.offermanns@mpi-bn.mpg.de
49-603-270-51202
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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