Enzyme is key to clogged arteries
They have discovered that an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase-8 plays a crucial role in increasing blood pressure and cause abnormal accumulation of cells in the arteries – which increase the risk of heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the UK. The scientists say their research could lead to new drugs for treating hypertension and preventing heart disease.
Shu Ye, Professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics at Queen Mary University of London, led the study. He explained: “Our research tells us that this enzyme plays a crucial role in the accumulation of fatty deposits in arteries that cause heart disease.
“Many patients with hypertension or heart failure treated with ACE inhibitor drugs. However, some patients do not adequately respond to ACE inhibitors alone. We hope that what we found here could be the basis of new drugs that can enhance the effects of ACE inhibitors, reducing deaths from heart disease. ”
The researchers studied mice that were genetically altered so they could not produce the enzyme MMP8. The mice were fed a Western-style diet high in fat and cholesterol and compared with normal mice fed the same diet. Mice lacking the enzyme had clearer arteries and blood pressure.
The researchers also studied 2,000 patients who were being tested for blockages in the arteries leading to your heart with a test called coronary angiography. They found that about 25 percent of these patients had a slightly different version of the gene and its MMP8 clogged arteries than other patients.
More information: Circulation Research (doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.109.200279).