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Researchers identify how binge drinking may drive heart disease
Date:11/26/2008

call for help from the immune system. Among other cell types, monocytes arrive with the goal of preventing infection, but end up causing inflammation that drives blood vessel blockage.

"Factors like binge-drinking have been linked to increased risk for heart disease, and the newer inflammatory model is beginning to explain how," said John Cullen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "One of our experiments found that acetaldehyde, at levels found in the blood after binge drinking, increased the number of monocytes that can adhere to cells lining blood vessels by 700 percent," said Cullen, who led the study.

Health psychologists argue that motivating people to stop binging depends upon their belief that it is harming them. Thus, the authors of the current study hope the results empower public health campaigns that discourage binge drinking.

Study Details

In between infections and injuries, dormant monocytes ride along with the bloodstream until they "realize" they are passing by part of a blood vessel wall close to the site of an injury or infection, or in the case of atherosclerosis, the site of cholesterol buildup. At this point, adhesion molecules on the monocyte surfaces unfold and grab onto key proteins on the surface of blood vessel wall cells, resisting the surrounding blood flow.

Whey they arrive on the scene, monocytes send out tethers, like anchors that snag the vessel wall. Once the monocyte swings close to the wall on its tether, it can then roll along the wall, getting stickier and sticker until it sticks in place permanently. Without this step, a major part of the immune component of atherosclerosis could not get underway.

In the current study, the team examined the effects of acetaldehyde on the ability of monocytes to home in on, tether to and roll along cells lining blood vessel walls. Researchers made cultures of the ce
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-3676
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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