Further underscoring the limitations of cholesterol screening in assessing a patient’s risk for heart disease, a new study by UC Davis physicians is the first to conclusively link C-reactive proteins (CRP) to formation of blood clots, a major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular disease. Until now, CRP had been recognized mainly as a risk marker of heart disease. The study appears in the Jan. 25 print edition of the journal Circulation, a publication of the American Heart Association, and is available on the Web at www.circulationaha.org.
"The study provides further conclusive evidence that CRP, until now viewed as an ’innocent bystander’ in the formation of heart disease, is in fact a key culprit that causes inflammation in the arteries, resulting in formation of clots and plaque that lead to heart attacks and strokes," said Ishwarlal Jialal, professor of pathology and director of the Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center.
The study demonstrates that CRP causes cells in the arteries, known as human aortic endothelial cells, to produce higher levels of an enzyme that inhibits the breakdown of clots. The enzyme, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is also a strong risk marker for heart disease, especially in diabetics. The study used a variety of techniques to convincingly show how CRP activates PAI-1 in aortic cells, causing lesions in the arteries that ultimately lead to formation of plaque and blood clots.
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