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Cleveland Clinic Researchers Identify Mechanism Behind Platelet Function and Potentially Fatal Blood Clot Formation
Date:8/27/2007

Findings Appear Online in the Journal Nature Medicine

CLEVELAND, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at Cleveland Clinic have identified the mechanism that accounts for platelet hyper-responsiveness during abnormal blood cholesterol levels, the major risk factor for fatal heart attacks and strokes.

In their work, researchers led by Eugene A. Podrez, M.D., Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, Department of Molecular Cardiology, investigated the mechanisms of how platelets become hyperreactive during hyperlipidemia, a condition in which there are abnormal levels of cholesterol or other lipids in the blood. It has long been recognized that high fat diet and abnormal lipid levels can alter platelet function, increasing chances of creating potentially lethal blood clots causing heart attack and stroke.

"By identifying mechanisms responsible for the hyperactivity of platelets during hyperlipidemia, new therapies may be developed to prevent inappropriate platelet activation and reduce the risk of adverse cardiovascular events," Dr Podrez said.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is often called "bad" cholesterol because it can accumulate in blood vessel walls, narrowing vessels and reducing blood supply to vital organs. In addition, platelets become hyperreactive (easily activated) with abnormal cholesterol levels. Excessive platelet activation can lead to blood clot formation and blockage of vital blood vessels during heart attack or stroke.

"Life-threatening cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, occur when plaque or fatty deposits rupture and trigger the formation of blood clots inside blood vessels," said Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., Section Head of Preventive Cardiology and Co-Investigator on the study.

Using human clinical studies and mouse models, the researchers found that CD36 on platelets modulates platelet activity in response to oxidant stress and abnormal lipids in the
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SOURCE Cleveland Clinic
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