The findings by a team led by George Abela, chief of the cardiology division in MSU’s College of Human Medicine, could dramatically shift the way doctors and researchers approach cardiovascular attacks. Abela’s findings appear in the April issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.
“Any time there is something completely new or unique in medical research, it is met with healthy skepticism,” said Abela, who has been working with cholesterol crystals since 2001. “But we have found something that can help dramatically change how we treat heart disease.”
What Abela and his team found is that as cholesterol builds up along the wall of an artery, it crystallizes from a liquid to a solid state and then expands.
“As the cholesterol crystallizes, two things can happen,” Abela said. “If it’s a big pool of cholesterol, it will expand, causing the ‘cap’ of the deposit to tear off in the arterial wall. Or the crystals, which are sharp, needle-like structures, poke their way through the cap covering the cholesterol deposit, like nails through wood.”
The crystals then work their way into the bloodstream. It is the presence of this material, as well as damage to an artery, that disrupts plaque and puts the body’s natural defense mechanism – clotting – into action, which can lead to dangerous, if not fatal, clots.
Abela and his team studied coronary arteries and carotid plaques from patients who died of cardiovascular attacks. When comparing their findings against a control group, they found evidence of cholesterol crystals disrupting plaque.
The breakthrough in discovering the crystals’ impact came after Abela and colleagues found a new way to preserve tissue after an autopsy, using a vacuum dry method instead of an alcohol solution. The previous method would dissolve the crystals and prevent researchers and doctors from seeing the impact.
Abela also has found that cholesterol crystals released in the bloodstream during a cardiac attack or stroke can damage artery linings much further away from the site of the attack, leaving survivors at even greater risk. The research means health care providers now have another weapon in their arsenal against cardiovascular diseases.
“So far, treatments have not been focused on this process,” Abela said. “Now we have a target to attack with the various novel approaches. In the past, we’ve treated the various stages that lead to this final stage, rather than preventing or treating this final stage of the condition.”
In separate research published in the March edition of medical journal Atherosclerosis, Abela and colleagues looked at the physical triggers that can cause cholesterol crystallization. They found that physical conditions such as temperature can play a role in how quickly cholesterol crystallizes and potentially causes a rupture.
Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.
Jason Cody | EurekAlert!
Staphylococcus aureus: A new mechanism involved in virulence and antibiotic resistance
23.03.2018 | Institut Pasteur
Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
22.03.2018 | Tufts University
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy