Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Link identified between age, cardiovascular disease

06.11.2006
Researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have discovered a fundamental mechanism that causes aging blood vessels to lose their elasticity – a literal "hardening of the arteries" that is often a prelude to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

An understanding of this mechanism, scientists say, provides an important new target for both drugs and dietary changes that might help prevent or treat atherosclerosis and heart disease. This is a leading cause of death around the world that, in some form, affects about 80 percent of older Americans.

The findings were just published in Aging Cell, a professional journal. The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the American Heart Association.

"This could ultimately provide a new, fundamental and possibly inexpensive way to treat or prevent high blood pressure," said Tory Hagen, an OSU associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics, and lead author on the study. "It's also a key to understanding the biological effects of inflammation, which increasingly seems to be implicated not only in heart disease but other chronic and neurologic diseases."

... more about:
»RELAX »Signaling »endothelial cell »function

The research, which was done in test tubes and animal models, needs to be confirmed in humans before it could form the basis for new therapies. But the fundamental findings reveal an important insight into how blood vessels change with age and lose much of their ability to relax, contract, and facilitate the circulation of blood in the body.

Blood vessels in humans, like those of other animals, have vascular "smooth muscles" that can alternatively relax and contract to accommodate fluctuations in blood flow and volume. A thin layer of "endothelial cells" in the vessels serves, in part, as a sensor mechanism to help regulate this process. And proper function of the endothelial cells, in turn, is driven by specific enzymes and signaling pathways.

What has been known for some time is that blood vessels, as they age, lose much of their capacity to relax – according to the OSU research, about half of that capacity, even in healthy vessels. If the vessels are narrowed by atherosclerotic lesions the problem is further exacerbated. High blood pressure is often the result, which in turn can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and death.

Some of the most common high blood pressure medications, in fact, function by helping to address this loss of elasticity in blood vessels. The nitroglycerin pills used by many people with unstable angina provide an immediate boost of nitric oxide, which serves to relax blood vessels.

What has not been known is exactly why this "hardening" of the blood vessels occurs with age. The new OSU study answers much of that question. "Basically, we've learned that in older blood vessels, the cellular signaling process is breaking down," said Hagen. "The vessels still have the ability to relax much as they did when they were younger, but they are not getting the message."

A complex enzymatic process outlined in the new study explains how this "failure to communicate" occurs. An enzymatic reaction called "phosphorylation," which is essential to the signaling process, loses about half of its effectiveness in aging blood vessels. This loss of phosphorylation is due to less activity in one enzyme, AKT, that facilitates the process, and excess activity of phosphatases, that reverse it.

The researchers also discovered that ceramides, one type of lipid, or fat, are primarily responsible for the excessive activity of phosphatases. And in laboratory experiments with blood vessels from rats, they were able to inhibit ceramide synthesis.

"The laboratory studies were very compelling," Hagen said. "We were able to make aging blood vessels behave as if they were young again."

According to Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute, and co-author on this study, a strength of this approach is that it points the way to use diet to prevent the decline in blood vessel function with age, and to treat it, if necessary, through drugs.

"A compound we're already using showed the ability to lower ceramide levels and improve the cell signaling process, and this compound would be a good starting point for possible drug therapies," Hagen said. "And certain types of diet may help reduce this natural, age-related process."

As is appropriate for many other disease concerns and health conditions, Frei said, a diet that's heavy in fruits and vegetables seems to slow down the loss of blood vessel function. However, the scientists also are doing research with lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant, that is very promising and may ultimately show it could play a role as a dietary supplement to help address this problem.

This overall process, the researchers said, is linked to a low-grade, chronic inflammation that occurs with aging, in blood vessels and probably many other metabolic functions. Efforts to understand and address these inflammatory processes are some of the most promising areas of chronic disease prevention and treatment, they said.

Tory Hagen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.oregonstate.edu

Further reports about: RELAX Signaling endothelial cell function

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>