A vaccine for heart disease? New discovery points up this possibility
Most people probably know that heart disease remains the nation's No. 1 killer. But what many may be surprised to learn is that cholesterol has a major accomplice in causing dangerous arterial plaque buildup that can trigger a heart attack. The culprit? Inflammatory cells produced by the immune system.
A number of research studies have demonstrated inflammation's role in fueling plaque buildup, also known as atherosclerosis, which is the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes, but knowledge of which immune cells are key to this process has been limited until now.
Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology have identified the specific type of immune cells (CD4 T cells) that orchestrate the inflammatory attack on the artery wall. Further, the researchers discovered that these immune cells behave as if they have previously seen the antigen that causes them to launch the attack. "The thing that excites me most about this finding is that these immune cells appear to have 'memory' of the molecule brought forth by the antigen-presenting cells," said Klaus Ley, M.D., a renowned expert in vascular immunology, who led the study in mouse models. "Immune memory is the underlying basis of successful vaccines. This means that conceptually it becomes possible to consider the development of a vaccine for heart disease."
This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology have identified the specific type of immune cells that orchestrate the inflammatory attack on the artery wall, which is a major contributor to plaque buildup in heart disease. Further, the researchers discovered that these immune cells are launching their attack in response to normal proteins that the body mistakes as being foreign. The video was published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Video courtesy of La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology.Dr. Ley said he believes the antigen involved is actually a normal protein that the body mistakes as being foreign and therefore launches an immune attack resulting in inflammation in the arteries. "Essentially, we're saying that there appears to be a strong autoimmune component in heart disease," he said, explaining that autoimmune diseases result from the body's mistaken attack on normal cells. "Consequently, we could explore creating a "tolerogenic" vaccine, such as those now being explored in diabetes, which could induce tolerance by the body of this self-protein to stop the inflammatory attack."
The study was published online Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in a paper entitled "Dynamic T cellAPC interactions sustain chronic inflammation in atherosclerosis."
Dr. Ley cautions that creating a vaccine is a complex process that could take years to develop. However it offers exciting potential. "If successful, a tolerogenic vaccine could stop the inflammation component of heart disease," he said. "This could probably be used in conjunction with the statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) that have already taken a significant chunk out of the numbers of people with heart disease. Together, they could deliver a nice one-two punch that could be important in further reducing heart disease."
Dr. Ley said antigen-presenting cells take up infectious organisms, foreign materials and self-proteins (in the case of autoimmune diseases) and "chop them into little pieces called epitopes" and then display the pieces on the surface of the cell. "The T cell comes along, and if it has the correct receptors, it will recognize the epitope pieces and make cytokines (a type of immune system soldier molecule) that attack the material and cause inflammation." Autoimmune diseases include such illnesses as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
In the study, Dr. Ley and his team used live cell imaging techniques to track immune cells in normal and artherosclerotic mouse aortas. He said in mice with atherosclerosis, there are a large number of antigen-experienced T cells that have already seen certain epitope pieces (from self proteins) that they perceive as foreign. "The T cells talk to the antigen-presenting cells and, in response, make cytokines that launch an attack. This is what makes the inflammation in the vessel wall persistent." Inflammatory cells join fat and cholesterol to form artery-clogging plaque that can eventually block blood flow, leading to a heart attack.
"It wasn't previously known that antigen-experienced T cells existed in the vessel wall," said Dr. Ley. "This experiment makes me now believe that it may be possible to build a vaccine for heart disease."
Journal reference: Journal of Clinical Investigation
Provided by La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
- Key step in immune system-fueled inflammation discovered Jul 01, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Immune response to heart attack worsens atherosclerosis, increases future risk Jun 27, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- New atherosclerosis vaccine gives promising results May 06, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Inflammation worsens danger due to atherosclerosis Jan 22, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Stroke and heart disease trigger revealed in new research Nov 30, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Relating physics forces and entropy
2 hours ago Consider proton and electron are seperated in space at some finite distance.Now suppose they released then the decrease in potential energy equals...
Force Between Two Concentric Solenoids
6 hours ago Imagine a finite length solenoid with outer radius R1 and inner radius R2. This solenoid has a time-varying current going though it. This solenoid is...
Synchrotron, question about insertion devices and electron velocity
6 hours ago When an electron enters an insertion device (wiggler and undulator) from the storage ring in a synchrotron the tangential velocity is equal to the...
Equating differentials => equating coefficients
8 hours ago Hi all, In thermodynamics one often has equations like A dx + B dy = ∂f/∂x dx + ∂f/∂y dy From which follows A = ∂f/∂x B = ∂f/∂y
The idea behind a reverse shock
13 hours ago So in a supernova explosion for example (5th slide) http://www.astro.princeton.edu/~burrows/classes/541/blastwavesChisari.pdf Ambient medium is...
Guass's Law for a charge distribution
14 hours ago First, this is not a homework question, just something I've been confused about for some time. I understand how to use Guass's law in many ways but...
- More from Physics Forums - Classical Physics
More news stories
Kate O'Reilly's spring allergy survival kit includes the usual stuff - nasal sprays, allergy pills and a box of tissues. This season, she's added a new weapon to her line of defense: an app on her smartphone.
Immunology May 24, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
Immunology May 24, 2013 | 5 / 5 (6) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at Emory Vaccine Center have shown that an immune regulatory molecule called IL-21 is needed for long-lasting antibody responses in mice against viral infections.
Immunology May 23, 2013 | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Human breastmilk responds quickly to protect the child when there is an infection in mothers or babies, according to new international research led by The University of Western Australia.
Immunology May 23, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half, according to the results of a multicentre randomised double blind trial presented today at Heart Failure 2013 congress. It is the first drug to improve heart failure mortality ...
19 hours ago | 5 / 5 (5) | 5
Heart failure accelerates the aging process and brings on early andropausal syndrome (AS), according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. AS, also referred to as male 'menopause', was four times ...
19 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 1
(HealthDay)—Animals make great companions for senior citizens, but elderly people who always drive with a pet in the car are far more likely to crash than those who never drive with a pet, researchers have ...
11 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
Mortality and length of stay are highest in heart failure patients admitted in January, on Friday, and overnight, according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. The analysis of nearly 1 million ...
19 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Department of Justice lawyers have again asked a federal appeals court in New York to delay lifting age restrictions and prescription requirements on an emergency contraceptive popularly known as the morning-after ...
19 hours ago | not rated yet | 0