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!
One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg
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...
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...
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...
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...
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)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology