Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UNC researchers find 2 biomarkers linked to severe heart disease


The finding published in PLoS One suggests that elevated oxidized LDL cholesterol and fructosamine -- a measure of glycated proteins in blood sugar -- are signposts for the development of severe coronary disease, especially in females

Insulin resistance affects tens of millions of Americans and is a big risk factor for heart disease. Yet, some people with the condition never develop heart disease, while some experience moderate coronary blockages. Others, though, get severe atherosclerosis - multiple blockages and deterioration of coronary arteries characterized by thick, hard, plaque-ridden arterial walls. Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine created a first-of-its-kind animal model to pinpoint two biomarkers that are elevated in the most severe form of coronary disease.

Left: moderate heart disease with limited arterial blockages in the heart of a pig are shown. Right: this image shows severe disease with several near-total blockages. The two biomarkers were greatly elevated only in severe disease.

Credit: UNC School of Medicine

The study, published today in the journal PLoS One, suggests two new targets - oxidized LDL cholesterol and glycated proteins (i.e., fructosamine or hemoglobin A1c) - that researchers can further investigate and perhaps target through medications to help people with insulin resistance avoid the worst kind of heart disease.

"If these correlations were also found in insulin resistant humans, then we would want to do everything we could to treat them because they would be at a very high risk of developing severe cardiovascular disease," said Timothy Nichols, MD, professor of medicine and pathology and first author of the PLoS One paper.

Interestingly, Nichols and his colleagues did not set out to pinpoint the two key biomarkers. They wanted to create an insulin resistant animal model that mimicked human heart disease. They chose pigs, which are metabolically similar to humans and have hearts very much like human hearts. By feeding the animals a diet high in fat and salt over the course of a year, all the pigs became insulin resistant. That is, their bodies produced a lot of insulin but their cells did not respond to the hormone as well as normal. All the pigs also developed coronary and aortic atherosclerosis. But only about half of the pigs developed the most severe form of the disease.

When the researchers checked the pigs for high levels of insulin resistance, they found no correlation with the most severe atherosclerosis. This was a surprising and unexpected finding.

David Clemmons, MD, the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Medicine, professor of biochemistry and biophysics, and senior author of the PLoS One paper, knew that the scientific literature suggested a correlation between atherosclerosis and glycated proteins - proteins bonded with sugars in blood.

Clemmons and colleagues tested the pigs for high levels of fructosamine and oxidized LDL cholesterol, which are surrogates for high levels of glycated proteins. Sure enough, all the pigs with severe heart disease had elevated levels of fructosamine and oxidized LDL.

"Also, this correlation was more common in females," Clemmons said. Fourteen of the 20 pigs that developed severe atherosclerosis were females. Fourteen of the 17 pigs that did not develop severe atherosclerosis were male. "This surprised me, so I looked in the literature for anything similar."

Clemmons found a study from Finland published in 2005 showing that elevated glycated protein levels were strongly associated with advanced heart disease and increased mortality in women but not in men.

"The underlying causes of this correlation are unknown," Clemmons said. "But now we have a unique animal model that very much mimics what we see in humans. Our model is a good predictor of diet-induced atherosclerosis in females."

A next step could be to study the affected heart tissue to find abnormal biochemical reactions in the cellular pathways involved in glycated proteins and severe coronary disease. This could lead to potential new treatment approaches or tailored dietary interventions.

Clemmons added, "We could also study what's different about these female pigs that make them much more susceptible to severe heart disease, if they have higher levels of glycated proteins."


The National Institutes of Health and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center funded this research.

Timothy Nichols, MD is a physician at the UNC Heart and Vascular Center and director of the Francis Owen Blood Research Laboratory. David Clemmons, MD, is a member of the UNC Diabetes Care Center.

Mark Derewicz | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Atherosclerosis Biomarkers PLoS One UNC heart disease oxidized LDL pigs proteins

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

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: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>