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Defeat Diabetes
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Inflammation CVD Connection Uncovered

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Sunday, August 03, 2008

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Inflammation is known to be a major contributor to cardiovascular disease (CVD), but there has been minimal understanding as to the fine details of this connection. A recent study has discovered that the protein plasminogen is responsible, which could lead to the development of treatments to target the protein and help prevent inflammation caused CVD.
CVD, which accounts for strokes and heart disease, "is responsible for nearly 50% of adult deaths [in the United States],"  according to the study. This makes CVD far and away the leading cause of death in the U.S. 
Inflammatory response, which involves "leukocyte recruitment to the sites of injury," has been shown in past research to worsen CVD. This leukocyte recruitment "requires exit of cells from the blood and their migration across basement membranes and into the injured tissue." The migration of leukocytes known as macrophages have been most closely linked to inflammatory response. This can both trigger a CVD event (such as a heart attack), and further progress it, increasing the likelihood of mortality. These "injuries" most often occur in the form of damage and constriction of major arterial blood vessels.
By manipulating the ECMs (extracellular matrix) of mice, it was found that the protein plasminogen plays a large role in the migration of macrophages to injury sites. Mice who were engineered to lack plasminogen were observed to have limited macrophage recruitment to injury sites. Lower levels of macrophages leaving the blood and attaching to injury sites would lower the risk of a CVD event, or the serious progression of an already occuring event.  This was not observed for other leukocytes known as neutrophils, but they do not play as large a roll in CVD.
The results of this study could lead to revolutionary developments in treatments for those with, or at high risk for, CVD. Follow-up research should aim to develop techniques and medications that eliminate plasminogens, which could greatly lower the risk of having a serious CVD event. With CVD such a pronounced epidemic, and with it being connected to other dangerous conditions that are on the rise (diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity), this research could lay the foundations for preventing many millions of lost lives.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Gong, Yanqing. Hart, Erika. Shchurin, Aleksey. Hoover-Plow, Jane. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. "Inflammatory macrophage migration requires MMP-9 activation by plasminogen in mice." August 2008.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2008 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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