Naturally occurring molecule may prevent atherosclerosis
July 11, 2012
Researchers have discovered that a naturally occurring molecule may
play a role in preventing plaque buildup inside arteries, possibly
leading to new plaque-fighting drugs and improved screening of
patients at risk of developing atherosclerosis
Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered that a naturally
occurring molecule may play a role in preventing plaque buildup
inside arteries, possibly leading to new plaque-fighting drugs and
improved screening of patients at risk of developing
Sometimes called hardening or clogging of the arteries,
atherosclerosis is the buildup of cholesterol, fatty cells, and
inflammatory deposits on the inner walls of the arteries,
restricting blood flow to the heart. The disease can affect the
arteries in the heart, legs, brain, kidneys, and other organs, and
is the most common cause heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral
At the cellular level, plaque buildup is the result of macrophages
in the vessel wall absorbing, processing, and storing cholesterol
(lipids) and then accumulating in large amounts, eventually leading
to the development of arterial lesions. The researchers, led by
Eugene Podrez, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Molecular
Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, have
discovered that the naturally occurring molecule Akt3 regulates
lipid entry into macrophages and prevents the cells from storing
excessive amounts of cholesterol and collecting in the artery.
Podrez says the discovery could lead to new drugs designed to
prevent atherosclerosis. It could also help doctors develop
screening tests to determine patient risk level for developing the
disease. Podrez and his colleagues are now looking into the
particular mechanisms behind Akt3’s role in regulating lipid
processing and will attempt to replicate their results in humans.
The above story is based on materials provided by Cleveland Clinic.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
1.Liang Ding, Sudipta Biswas, Richard E. Morton, Jonathan D. Smith,
Nissim Hay, Tatiana V. Byzova, Maria Febbraio, Eugene A. Podrez.
Akt3 Deficiency in Macrophages Promotes Foam Cell Formation and
Atherosclerosis in Mice. Cell Metabolism, 2012; 15 (6): 861 DOI:
Sent using Hushmail