Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New driver of atherosclerosis offers potential as therapeutic target


A new driver of atherosclerosis has been identified by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center. This molecule, known as 27HC (27-hydroxycholesterol), has been found to exacerbate the development of the condition, and may prove to be a promising therapeutic target.

Atherosclerosis is characterized by the build-up of lesions (or plaques) formed from lipids, such as cholesterol and fatty acids. Ruptured plaques can partially or completely block blood flow, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke. A member of a larger family of molecules known as oxysterols, 27HC is produced during the normal breakdown of cholesterol and is known to accumulate in atherosclerotic plaques.

This is Dr. Shaul,UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Credit: UT Southwestern

The new study, conducted by a team of UT Southwestern researchers led by senior author Dr. Philip Shaul, sought to identify the impact of 27HC on atherosclerosis. Dr. Shaul is Vice Chair for Research and Professor of Pediatrics, and Director of the Center for Pulmonary and Vascular Biology at UT Southwestern. The study's findings – first-authored by Dr. Michihisa Umetani, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology – were recently published in Cell Metabolism.

Using animal models and other strategies, the researchers found that 27HC promotes the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, causing a doubling in the accumulation of lipids in the arterial wall. 27HC achieves this buildup through mechanisms mediated by estrogen receptors, which normally enable the hormone estrogen to protect against the development and progression of atherosclerosis. By blocking estrogen receptors, 27HC prevents the beneficial effects of estrogen and promotes atherosclerosis.

"When 27HC is present, estrogen's protective effects are only observed at very high levels of the hormone," said Dr. Shaul, holder of the Associates First Capital Corporation Distinguished Chair in Pediatrics. "This result may explain why hormone therapy with estrogen does not provide cardiovascular benefit in women with pre-existing atherosclerosis, in which 27HC is abundant in the vascular wall."

Probing further into the underlying mechanisms, the researchers discovered that 27HC triggers inflammation in the arterial wall, a key step in the establishment of atherosclerotic plaques. This detrimental effect was characterized by exaggerated production of molecules that drive inflammation, called cytokines, and enhanced attachment on the arterial wall of immune cells known as macrophages. It is the recruitment of macrophages that then accumulate lipids (such as cholesterol) that triggers the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.

"Although statins have had a dramatic impact on cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, we still need complementary methods to combat atherosclerosis," Dr. Shaul said. "Targeting 27HC, either by lowering the levels of this compound or by inhibiting its actions, could potentially provide a complementary approach to preventing vascular disease."


Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study include Dr. Pritam Ghosh, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine; Dr. Tomonori Ishikawa, postdoctoral research fellow in Pediatrics; Dr. Chieko Mineo, Associate Professor of Pediatrics; and Junko Umetani and Mohamed Ahmed, research assistants in Pediatrics.

The study was funded by support from the National Institutes of Health, the American Diabetes Association, and an unrestricted endowment provided to Dr. Shaul by the Associates First Capital Corporation.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. Numbering more than 2,700, the faculty is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 91,000 hospitalized patients and oversee more than 2 million outpatient visits a year.

Remekca Owens | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: atherosclerosis cholesterol hormone inflammation levels macrophages vascular

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>