Linking Autoimmunity and Atherosclerosis via Inflammatory Processes

Via ScienceDaily: "Individuals who suffer from autoimmune diseases also display a tendency to develop atherosclerosis - the condition popularly known as hardening of the arteries. Clinical researchers [have] now discovered a mechanism which helps to explain the connection between the two types of disorder. The link is provided by a specific class of immune cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). ... Using laboratory mice as an experimental model, the researchers were able to show that pDCs contribute to early steps in the formation of athersclerotic lesions in the blood vessels. Stimulation of pDCs causes them to secrete large amounts of interferons, proteins that strongly stimulate inflammatory processes. The protein that induces the release of interferons is produced by immune cells that accumulate specifically at sites of inflammation, and mice that are unable to produce this protein also have fewer plaques. Stimulation of pDCs in turn leads to an increase in the numbers of macrophages present in plaques. Macrophages normally act as a clean-up crew, removing cell debris and fatty deposits by ingesting and degrading them. However, they can also 'overindulge,' taking up more fat than they can digest. When this happens, they turn into so-called foam cells that promote rather than combat atherosclerosis. In addition, activated, mature pDCs can initiate an immune response against certain molecules found in atherosclerotic lesions, which further exacerbates the whole process. ... The newly discovered involvement of pDCs in the development of atherosclerosis [reveals] why the stimulation of pDC that is characteristic of autoimmune diseases contributes to the progression of atherosclerosis. The findings also suggest new approaches to the treatment of chronic inflammation that could be useful for a whole range of diseases."



That summary leaves out the critical detail that much of the plaque consists of oxidized cholesterol and other species that macrophages simply can't digest. This is where lysoSENS could step in with new enzymatic capabilities for the macrophages, enabling them to perform their clean-up function successfully.

The situation is one in which the immune system is trying to do its job but it simply lacks a necessary capability, and it's reasonable to believe that vesting it with this capability would be adequate to fully overcome the problem.

Posted by: Jose at April 6th, 2012 9:38 PM
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