La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology researchers have now discovered that CD4T immune cells have antigen presenting cells involved in the artery wall inflammatory attack. The study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation online division states that according to the lead researcher Klaus Ley, M.D., the cells appeared to have a memory which could be the underlying basis for a successful vaccine, meaning it is possible to consider the development of a heart disease vaccine.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. In fact, 25.4 percent of all the deaths in the US today are caused by heart disease, and it may be triggered by autoimmune diseases.
For decades, researchers have emphasized the role of cholesterol in the buildup of arterial plaque that triggers that majority of strokes and heart attacks. However, in recent years, scientists and researchers have ruled out the possible role of the immune-system cell’s inflammation, although the cause is still unclear.
According to a study conducted on mice and published in the Nature Medicine journal, researchers from the University of Toronto and Massachusetts General Hospital made a new discovery how plaques grow inside the arterial walls which oppose how scientists previously believed, and opened avenues for brand new heart disease clinical treatments.
In the past, researchers assumed that the macrophages’ growth was more to do with monocytes (cells outside the plaque). Recently, scientists found that macrophages (white blood cells involved in atherosclerosis) replicate inside plaques.
Filip Swirski, a scientist in the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the study’s principal investigator, says:
“I think this work will force some major re-evaluations. People have been thinking of targeting monocyte influx to treat atherosclerosis, but they need to consider macrophage proliferation as an additional or alternative approach, especially in established disease.”
Dr Klaus Ley believes that the normal protein was mistakenly recognized by the body as a foreign material and the inflammation of the arteries was the result of the body’s immune system attack.
He explains: “Essentially, we’re saying that there appears to be a strong autoimmune component in heart disease. 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.”
While creating a vaccine offers exciting potential, it can take years to develop because of its complexity. It will take years of research on animals to demonstrate that a vaccine is viable, and then it has to pass all the safety tests. However, Dr Ley believed that creating a heart disease vaccine is now possible. Tolerogenic vaccine could inhibit the inflammation component of heart disease and could be used with statins to reduce heart disease.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas
Source: Medical News Today