Dartmouth Medical School cardiology researchers have discovered a new mechanism for what drives the growth of muscle tissue in the lining of injured heart vessels that can eventually lead to blockage. Their study, reported in the October 19 issue of the journal Circulation, raises important questions about the use of drugs that promote or prevent angiogenesis - the formation of blood vessels - to treat the condition.
Normal heart arteries have a muscle tissue layer inside their walls. In coronary artery disease or in response to mechanical injury such as angioplasty (a non-surgical procedure to open clogged arteries), new smooth muscle cells grow along the innermost layer of the arterial lining and leads to narrowing. Such muscle buildup also occurs with use of a stent – a small wire mesh tube inserted after angioplasty to keep the artery clear.
It is the most common cause of stent failure, according to Michael Simons, professor of medicine and of pharmacology and toxicology at Dartmouth Medical School and chief of cardiology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, who headed the research team. Based on the research, Simons cautions against using angiogenic drugs to unblock arteries in certain heart conditions. He indicated that stents coated with agents that specifically target smooth muscle to prevent or kill growth should remain the treatment of choice at present. "They are not perfect, so everyone is looking for what can be added to make things better," he noted.
Andrew Nordhoff | EurekAlert!
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