Scientists Reveal New Findings for Reversing Early and Late Atherosclerosis
Research at Icahn School of Medicine at
In addition, the researchers also identified gene networks within atherosclerotic plaques leading to the discovery of new molecular targets that could help improve responsiveness to LDL-cholesterol therapy in advanced atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries due to the buildup of cholesterol-rich plaques in the walls of arteries, is the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes, which together account for more than half of all deaths worldwide. Advanced atherosclerosis is dangerous and underlies most cases of heart attack or stroke. Scientists have been searching for ways to prevent early-stage atherosclerosis from progressing to the more dangerous, advanced stage to improve outcomes for those patients at risk of coronary or carotid artery disease (CAD).
“The vascular process that responds to plasma cholesterol lowering therapy was not previously well understood, so our aim in this study was to establish a clearer picture of this function,” said Johan Björkegren, MD, PhD, co-lead study author and Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at
These new study findings add support to the 2013
In the study, scientists also identified gene networks responsible for the effect of LDL-cholesterol lowering on atherosclerosis regression. In mice with early-stage atherosclerosis, a key driver gene in the network known as PPARG was found to be involved in causing the complete regression. In mature and advanced cases, different key driver genes in the network proved to be most influential in controlling the regression of atherosclerosis: MLL5 in mature cases and SRSF10/XRN2 in advanced cases.
The study authors note that these three key genetic drivers may serve as new targets to improve regression of more advanced forms of atherosclerosis.
“It is our hope that the genetic targets we identified in more advanced atherosclerosis will be useful in developing new therapies to reverse dangerous advanced arterial plaque disease,” states Dr. Björkegren.
The new study, entitled “Plasma Cholesterol–Induced Lesion Networks Activated before Regression of Early, Mature, and Advanced Atherosclerosis,” was published in PLoS Genetics and is available here: http://www.plosgenetics.org/doi/pgen.1004201
The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians, 12 minority-owned free-standing ambulatory surgery centers, over 45 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of
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