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Research sheds new light on cause and potential treatment for heart disease

Story Date: Thu, 02 May 2013 15:06:00 EDT

Research undertaken by EVMS scientists provides new understanding of heart disease and also highlights a compound that shows promise for preventing one common form of the disease: atherosclerosis.

The results were presented May 2 at the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Scientific Sessions sponsored by the American Heart Association in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The research shows the potential for the fat around the blood vessels to cause the onset and progression of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases, says Anca Dobrian, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiological Sciences at EVMS and lead author on the study. Atherosclerosis is the potentially dangerous buildup of plaque within arteries.

“We determined that a pro-inflammatory pathway that is active both in fat and in the blood vessels, named IL12/STAT4, is in part responsible for the inflammation that contributes to atherosclerotic plaque formation,” Dr. Dobrian says.

“This is a new mechanism by which fat around the blood vessels impacts the evolution of cardiovascular disease,” says Jerry L. Nadler, MD, Chair of Internal Medicine at EVMS and the school’s Harry H. Mansbach Chair in Internal Medicine.

The researchers also identified a compound from Diakine Therapeutics in Norfolk, Va., that inhibits the inflammation in fat and shows potential for preventing atherosclerosis.

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and is currently funded by the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.