Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can an aspirin a day keep atherosclerosis at bay?

04.09.2002


Research yields another benefit to low-dose aspirin

The original miracle drug, aspirin, continues to surprise medical scientists. While studies have proven that aspirin can prevent a second heart attack by thinning the blood, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have shown that aspirin can also prevent heart attacks and stroke through an entirely different mechanism. Using laboratory models, the Penn researchers demonstrated that aspirin also lessens the inflammation associated with atherosclerosis and stabilizes athersclerotic plaque. Their findings are presented in the current issue of Circulation. "The past decade has seen a lot of research indicating that atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease," said Domenico Praticò, MD, assistant professor in Penn’s Department of Pharmacology. "Our findings show that aspirin not only decreases inflammation in the arteries and the growth of the atherosclerotic plaque, but it also beneficially alters the consistency of the plaque that remains."

Atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, is a main cause of heart attacks and strokes, two leading causes of death in the United States. A variety of factors, including genetics and diet, spur the disease, which occurs as cholesterol-rich cells of the immune system accumulate inside of blood vessels. As these plaques grow, they cause the blood vessels to narrow. If a portion of the plaque breaks off it can induce the formation of a thrombus, a blood clot that could completely obstruct blood flow and cause a heart attack. Likewise, a portion of the thrombus could also travel through the bloodstream to the brain, where it could cause a stroke.



The Penn researchers found that low-dose aspirin leads to a change in the composition of the plaque, turning it from a soft foamy material to a harder material that is less likely to rupture.

"After aspirin, we find more collagen and smooth muscle cells in arterial plaque and significantly less cholesterol-rich cells," said Praticò. "Of course, it is better to have no plaque at all, but if you have plaque in your arteries, you would prefer it to stay put – where it will do the least harm."

Although the exact causes of atherosclerosis are unclear, researchers have known that the inflammation found in atherosclerosis is associated with increased levels of cellular inflammatory signals called cytokines. Plaque formation is also associated with increased levels in the aorta of a protein called NF-?B that controls the formation of these cytokines, stimulates the growth of immune cells and the accumulation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) – also known as the ’bad’ cholesterol. The Penn researchers have found that aspirin lowers the amount of both cytokines in the blood stream and the NF-?B in the aorta, suggesting a potent anti-inflammatory action of the drug.

Praticò and his colleagues hypothesize that these novel effects of low-dose of aspirin are independent from its known function as blood thinner.

Aspirin directly inhibits the cycloxygenase (COX) enzyme, which allows platelets in the blood to form clots. After aspirin blocks COX, it enables this enzyme to produce powerful anti-inflammatory molecules such as lipoxins, which in turn could inhibit the formation of cytokines – the very molecules that may stimulate atherosclerosis.

While Praticò recognizes more research needs to be done, aspirin could provide a potent, and inexpensive way to fight atherosclerosis. Low-dose aspirin has already been proven effective in preventing a second heart attack. There is a danger, however, taking large doses of aspirin, which can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.

So, what constitutes a low-dose?

"Generally, we consider between 80mg and 250mg of aspirin to be ’low-dosages’ – about the amount you would find in children’s aspirin," said Praticò. "Of course, anyone considering taking a regimen of low-dose aspirin should consult a physician first." The research detailed in this study was supported by grants from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.

Greg Lester | EurekAlert

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>