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Mouse Study May Explain Link Between Clogged Arteries, Immune Dysfunction

Mouse Study May Explain Link Between Clogged Arteries, Immune Dysfunction

01/09/14

THURSDAY, Jan. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New research in mice suggests that a molecule linked to clogged arteries might activate the immune system to the point where it harms the body.

The findings may explain why clogged arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis, have been tied to autoimmune disorders, which develop when the immune system goes awry.

"The lesson from this study is that immune diseases are not always a matter of immune system alone," said senior study author Yeonseok Chung, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "With our findings, we have just started to understand how factors in the circulatory system impact the immune system."

Levels of the molecule in question, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), rise when the immune system is activated. The study authors wondered if this might have a bearing on why people with autoimmune conditions, such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to develop clogged arteries.

In the new study, which was published Jan. 9 in the journal Immunity, the researchers found that the molecule increased certain immune cells in mice that had the equivalent of human atherosclerosis.

When those immune cells were treated with an agent that inhibits their activity, symptoms of autoimmune disease improved.

"Our study suggests that we should consider circulatory factors in current therapeutic approaches for the treatment of autoimmune diseases," Chung said in a journal news release. For instance, controlling oxLDL levels in circulation might greatly improve the effectiveness of treatments for autoimmune diseases, Chung added.

Experts note that results achieved in animal studies often aren't replicated in humans.

More information

For more about vascular diseases, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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