NIEHS-cloned gene linked to a natural substance that reduces vascular inflammation, a key to arterial clogging

August 25, 1999

Scientists at National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and the University of Virginia have shown that naturally occurring fatty acids can help prevent vascular inflammation, a key component in the development of atherosclerosis-- the so-called "hardening" of the arteries that leads to many heart attacks and strokes.

The fatty acids are made by an enzyme produced by a gene first cloned at NIEHS -- and the gene itself, when implanted in the arterial cells, can produce the same protective effect, the researchers said.

The findings were published in the journal Science.

The fatty acid studies were performed in cultured human cells (from the lining of the arteries) and in live mice. They show that the introduction of fatty acid compounds called EETs can suppress the inflammation of arteries and may thereby protect against the development of atherosclerosis.

James Liao, M.D., of the Harvard-associated Brigham and Women's Hospital, said EETs may also be important in some cancers and rheumatic diseases where inflammatory cells have a role.

Darryl C. Zeldin, M.D., of NIEHS, a senior co-author on the study, originally cloned the CYP2J2 gene. "Since our studies have thus far been limited to tissue cultures and mice, we are still at a very early phase of discovery on the anti-inflammatory potential of the EETs and their stable analogs in humans," Zeldin said, "but the results show exciting potential."

Indeed, Liao said, "EETs may be the next generation of molecules that can be used to combat atherosclerosis and other diseases arising from inflammation." Atherosclerosis, a thickening and build-up of plaque in the arteries, occurs when the innermost layer of the artery, the endothelium, becomes damaged by cholesterol, toxins, oxidants, or infectious agents.

The damaged endothelial cells in the artery walls produce adhesion molecules. These adhesion molecules allow white blood cells to accumulate in the vessel wall. A large build-up of white blood cells coupled with the build-up of fats and cholesterol can inflame and thicken an artery to the point where it becomes vulnerable to complete blockage from a clot. A heart attack or stroke can result.

Heart attacks are the number one cause of death in the United States.

The researchers discovered that EETs and their stable metabolites can suppress the artery's endothelium from producing the adhesion molecules.

Furthermore, the researchers found that transferring the human CYP2J2 gene into the endothelial cells reproduced the anti-inflammatory effects. They said this suggests that, in the future, these genes might be transferred into arteries by gene therapy to help reduce vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis risk.

NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Related Atherosclerosis Articles from Brightsurf:

How hormone therapy slows progression of atherosclerosis
As one of the most common treatments for effectively managing menopause symptoms, hormone therapy (HT) is also known to provide multiple health benefits, including slowing the progression of atherosclerosis.

T cells can shift from helping to harming in atherosclerosis
At La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) researchers are dedicated to finding a way to stop plaques from forming in the first place.

New nanoparticle drug combination for atherosclerosis
Physicochemical cargo-switching nanoparticles (CSNP) designed by KAIST can help significantly reduce cholesterol and macrophage foam cells in arteries, which are the two main triggers for atherosclerotic plaque and inflammation.

Atherosclerosis -- How a microRNA protects vascular integrity
Ludwig-Maximilian-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers have discovered a hitherto unknown molecular function of a specific microRNA that preserves integrity of the endothelium and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis progresses rapidly in healthy people from the age of 40
A CNIC study published in JACC demonstrates that atheroma plaques extend rapidly in the arteries of asymptomatic individuals aged between 40 and 50 years participating in the PESA-CNIC-Santander study.

Scaling up a nanoimmunotherapy for atherosclerosis through preclinical testing
By integrating translational imaging techniques with improvements to production methods, Tina Binderup and colleagues have scaled up a promising nanoimmunotherapy for atherosclerosis in mice, rabbits and pigs -- surmounting a major obstacle in nanomedicine.

Bladder drug linked to atherosclerosis in mice
A drug used in the treatment of overactive bladder can accelerate atheroclerosis in mice, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden report in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

A new therapeutic target for blocking early atherosclerosis in progeria
Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares and the Universidad de Oviedo have discovered a new molecular mechanism involved in the premature development of atherosclerosis in mice with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.

Protective mechanism against atherosclerosis discovered
Immune cells promoting inflammation play a crucial role in the development of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis: Stopped on time
For the first time, LMU researchers are pointing out the influence of the internal clock on atherosclerosis.

Read More: Atherosclerosis News and Atherosclerosis Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to