Atherosclerosis May Damage Other Organs -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Atherosclerosis May Damage Other Organs

Photo: Blood vessel viewed under a microscope

Biochemical signals associated with
atherosclerosis can lead to other
diseases; © Michigan State University

In the new study Rita Upmacis, Ph.D., a chemist at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York and colleagues worked with laboratory mice that have atherosclerosis. These mice are widely used in atherosclerosis research that cannot be done in humans.

Mice that are genetically prone to atherosclerosis and fed a high-fat diet developed high levels of nitrotyrosine in their heart, lung, liver, and kidney. By contrast, mice that were fed regular diets showed no such increase. The rise in nitrotyrosine levels suggests that high-fat diets in animals with atherosclerosis can help trigger nitrotyrosine accumulation in the proteins of various organs, the scientists say.

Upmacis and colleagues also conducted a related experiment in atherosclerotic mice lacking the gene that makes nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), an enzyme that orchestrates accumulation of nitrotyrosine in proteins. In association with prior findings that iNOS gene deletion limits the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, the new study showed that nitrotyrosine accumulation in proteins is reduced in diverse organs when iNOS is absent.

“The findings support an emerging view that iNOS could be a new target for treating atherosclerosis and that limiting nitrotyrosine accumulation in the lungs, liver, and other organs could help fight the damaging effects of the disease,” Upmacis says. “But the trick will be to develop a drug to block this pathway without causing any unwanted side effects.” Potentially, the accumulation of nitrotyrosine in the blood can be utilized as a diagnostic test to track atherosclerosis and provide a clearer picture of damage to organs, the researchers say.; Source: American Chemical Society