11 April 2022

With a brush on the plaques

Scientists have prevented atherosclerosis in mice

Svetlana Maslova, Hi-tech+

Treatment is aimed at stimulating the process of cleaning the arteries, which prevents the deposition of cholesterol on the walls. So far, the results are available on preclinical models, but a similar trend can be traced in humans. Prevention of atherosclerosis is the main tool for reducing the risks of stroke, heart attack and major cardiovascular diseases, so the development of new therapies is extremely in demand.

For many years, cardiovascular diseases remain the main cause of death in the world. Stress and lifestyle are key factors in the development of these diseases, which gradually lead to the first pathological changes in the cardiovascular system - atherosclerosis. Now scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have discovered a new way to prevent clogged arteries, which aims to stimulate the process of cleaning them, according to a press release from Einstein Researchers Find a New Strategy for Preventing Clogged Arteries.

Article by Madrigal-Matute et al. The protective role of chaperone-mediated autophagy against atherosclerosis is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – VM.

The key to the development of therapy was chaperone-mediated autophagy (chaperone-mediated autophagy, SMA) — the process of cellular purification, which breaks down damaged proteins for excretion from the body. With age, the effectiveness of SMA decreases, which contributes to the development of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Now scientists have found that SMA also protects against atherosclerosis: in response to stress from a fatty diet, SMA is activated and strives to clear the arteries of excess fat.

Using the example of mice on a high-fat diet, they showed that at first the activity of SMA was high, but by the 12-week mark it decreased. In another experiment, mice without SMA had a rapid appearance of atherosclerotic plaques, which were 40% larger than in the control group in animals with the same diet. Finally, they showed that the high activity of SMA improved blood lipids, lowered cholesterol levels and reduced the size of plaques in the arteries of animals. People had similar tendencies.

Patients with high levels of SMA after the first stroke have never encountered a second and vice versa — it almost always occurred with low SMA. "This means that the level of SMA can be an indicator for predicting the patient's condition," the authors concluded.

Currently, they have already developed experimental compounds that can increase the activity of SMA for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis.

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