Hitherto unknown risk factor for arteriosclerosis identified

January 9, 2017 by Johannes Angerer

Following a blood infection, the first class of antibodies produced by the immune system are IgM antibodies. They form the "vanguard" of the immune response before other cells are activated to fight the infection. Some people are deficient or completely lack these antibodies, and develop congenital immune deficiency. Together with the CeMM (the Austrian Academy of Sciences Research Center for Molecular Medicine), researchers from MedUni Vienna's Division of Medical-Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics have now discovered how this deficiency contributes to an increased risk of arteriosclerosis and consequently even to serious cardiovascular diseases.

In the human , IgM antibodies (immunoglobulin M) not only play a primary role in the , but also maintain an important balance: they control the physiological development of B cells, which are responsible for producing and disposing of antibodies. They therefore also regulate the blood concentration of IgE antibodies and keep it in check, restoring the correct level to keep the immune system in balance. However, if there is a lack of IgM antibodies, this balance cannot be maintained. The uncontrolled IgE antibodies, which also play a significant role in the development of allergic reactions, lead to the increased formation of plaques, activation of mast cells and inflammatory processes and constrict and damage blood vessels. This was proven in an animal model by a team headed up by Christoph Binder and lead author Dimitrios Tsiantoulas.

"For the first time, we were able to show that IgE antibodies can themselves provoke inflammatory reactions in vessels, and that inhibition of these IgE antibodies prevents damage to the vessels," explains Binder. In the future, this knowledge could open up new treatment options by restoring the balance of the immune system. "We were able to identify a completely new function of IgM antibodies, which also probably plays a major role in the development of allergies," adds Tsiantoulas, lead author of the study.

Deficiency in or total absence of IgM is very rare. However, reduced IgM antibody levels are found in up to 2.5% of the total population.

Explore further: How antibodies access neurons to fight infection

More information: Dimitrios Tsiantoulas et al. Increased Plasma IgE Accelerate Atherosclerosis in Secreted IgM DeficiencyNovelty and Significance, Circulation Research (2017). DOI: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.116.309606

Related Stories

How antibodies access neurons to fight infection

May 18, 2016

Yale scientists have solved a puzzle of the immune system—how antibodies enter the nervous system to control viral infections. Their finding may have implications for the prevention and treatment of a range of conditions, ...

Researchers find alternative pathways to HIV antibodies

May 4, 2016

The immune system appears to hamper an investigational vaccine from inducing antibodies that protect against HIV infection, but there may be ways to overcome this impediment, according to research led by the Duke Human Vaccine ...

Sugar governs how antibodies work in the immune system

October 6, 2015

Antibodies protect the body against diseases – but can also harm their own organism if the reactions are misdirected. Researchers from the University of Zurich have now discovered that a particular sugar in the antibodies ...

Recommended for you

Every meal triggers inflammation

January 17, 2017

When we eat, we do not just take in nutrients – we also consume a significant quantity of bacteria. The body is faced with the challenge of simultaneously distributing the ingested glucose and fighting these bacteria. This ...

Can coffee perk up heart health, too?

January 16, 2017

The caffeine in your morning cup of joe may do more than jolt you awake—it may also help dampen the type of inflammation that's linked to heart disease risk factors, a new study suggests.

Metabolic sensor causes granulomas to form

January 16, 2017

Granulomas are tissue nodules of immune cells that occur in diseases such as tuberculosis and sarcoidosis and can damage many organs. For the first time, a team of researchers at the Center for Pathobiochemistry and Genetics ...

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.