These plaques grow until they burst, rupturing the wall and causing the formation of a blood clot within the artery. These clots also grow until they block blood flow; in the case of the coronary artery, this can cause a heart attack.
New research from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that clots forming under arterial-flow conditions have an unexpected ability to sense the surrounding blood moving over it. If the flow stops, the clot senses the decrease in flow and this triggers a contraction similar to that of a muscle. The contraction squeezes out water, making the clot denser.
Better understanding of the clotting dynamics that occur in atherosclerosis, as opposed to the dynamics at play in closing a wound, could lead to more effective drugs for heart-attack prevention.
The research was conducted by graduate student Ryan Muthard and Scott Diamond, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.Their work was published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, which is published by the American Heart Association.
“It is an example of ‘quorum sensing’ by the platelets in the clots,” Diamond said. “The platelets are sensing each other and the prevailing environment. This causes them to release ADP and thromboxane, but it is rapidly diluted away by the surrounding blood flow.
Evan Lerner | EurekAlert!
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