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UC Davis "Lab on a Chip" Measures Heart Disease Risk
Date:8/6/2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (PRWEB) August 06, 2013

Using a special microchip that can perform laboratory functions, a team of cardiologists and biomedical engineers from UC Davis has identified cells linked with inflammation and varying degrees of heart disease.

The “lab on a chip,” which is based on technology used to evaluate chemicals and cell-to-cell interactions, may one day lead to a rapid test that doctors could use to better predict, treat and monitor atherosclerosis.

The study is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“Our test provides a good indication of how atherosclerosis actually develops inside coronary arteries,” said Scott Simon, professor of biomedical engineering and a study co-author. “This is an exciting step in developing personalized profiles for heart disease risk.”

Cardiologists agree that inflammation plays an important role in heart disease, but knowing how inflammation affects the risk of a heart attack is a challenge — hence the phenomenon of a patient leaving the doctor’s office with a clean bill of health only to have a heart attack a week later.

“Inflammation likely accounts for aspects of heart disease that traditional indicators such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking and cholesterol don’t assess,” said Ehrin Armstrong, an interventional cardiologist and senior author of the study. “This test measures inflammation in cells of the immune system, opening up new avenues to monitor and treat cardiovascular disease.”

The investigators focused on specific white blood cells called CD14++ and CD16+ monocytes that link in the blood with triglycerides — fats that are risk factors for atherosclerosis. These monocytes become activated by “swallowing” triglycerides and expressing proteins called integrins. While integrins help protect against infection, they also make the monocytes sticky, helping
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