New atherosclerosis vaccine gives promising results

May 6, 2010, Karolinska Institutet

A new study by researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet shows that the immune defence's T cells can attack the "bad" LDL cholesterol and thereby cause an inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis. By producing a vaccine against the T cell receptors, the researchers have managed to inhibit the development of atherosclerosis in animals. The study is presented online in the distinguished periodical Journal of Experimental Medicine and is expected to be of considerable significance to the future treatment of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.

Cholesterol is transported in the blood in LDL particles, which are a kind of fat drops that can accumulate in the walls of . LDL activates the immune defence and triggers an inflammation in the blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis (also known as arteriosclerosis). When the atherosclerotic plaque finally ruptures, a blood clot is formed that in turn can cause a heart attack or stroke.

It was previously thought that the inflammation in the blood vessels arises when the react to oxidised LDL particles located in the atherosclerotic plaque. Now, however, the team at Karolinska Institutet has found that the opposite is true, namely that the T cells react to components in the normal LDL particles, and that they no longer recognise LDL once it has been oxidised.

"Since reactions to LDL can be dangerous, T cells are normally held in check by inhibitory signals," says Professor Göran K Hansson, who led the study. "The body's own control works well as long as the LDL keeps to the blood, liver and lymph glands. But when it accumulates in the artery wall, this inhibition is no longer enough, the T cells are activated and an inflammation arises."

Together with his research group at Karolinska Institutet he now presents a new principle for inhibiting . Vaccination against the receptor that the T cells use to recognise LDL can block the and reduce the disease by between 60 and 70 per cent. The vaccine has been successfully tested on animals and the researchers are now hoping to see if it can be developed into a treatment for patients with a high risk of myocardial infarction and stroke.

The researchers also now believe that their results explain why antioxidants are ineffective against cardiovascular disease when they have been tested in large clinical studies.

"If one takes antioxidants, one simply prevents the oxidation of LDL," says Professor Hansson. "It retains its ability to activate the T cells, and so the inflammation in the blood vessels can increase. This could give the opposite results to what one was hoping for."

More information: "Inhibition of T cell response to native low-density lipoprotein reduces atherosclerosis", Andreas Hermansson, Daniel F.J. Ketelhuth, Daniela Strodthoff, Marion Wurm, Emil M. Hansson, Antonino Nicoletti, Gabrielle Paulsson-Berne & Göran K. Hansson, Journal of Experimental Medicine, online 3 May 2010, doi:10.1084/jem.20092243

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.