Scientists make discovery related to atherosclerosis

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Thu, Feb 09, 2012 - Page 2

A research team funded by the National Science Council achieved a breakthrough in molecular--targeted therapy of atherosclerosis by experimenting on the condition’s formation mechanism from the perspective of cardiovascular biodynamics.

The council said discoveries by the team led by National Health Research Institutes researcher Chiu Jeng-jiann (裘正健) had been recognized by the prominent academic journal Physiological Reviews in a cover story last year.

Atherosclerosis, a condition in which the artery wall thickens from the accumulation of fatty material, is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the council said, adding that this particular disease has always been one of the top two causes of death in Taiwan.

“Clinical evidence shows that atherosclerosis tends to occur at the curves or forks of the arteries,” Chiu said. “The blood flow at these points is especially complicated and the disturbed flow and oscillation of shear stress are thought to be able to modulate the inflammation and thickening of vascular walls, and are an important factor in atherosclerosis as well.”

Instead of experimenting with chemical reactions, the team focused on discovering the mechanism of how different levels of blood flow shear stress could affect molecules related to atherosclerosis formulation.

The team was able to demonstrate that oscillated shear stress can increase the performance of several types of histone deacetylase (HDAC) in the endothelium, modulating some transcription factors and gene transcription.

A noteworthy discovery is that the third type of HDAC has the important function of modulating oxidation, inflammation and hyperplasia and can be seen as an important targeted therapy for the prevention or treatment of atherosclerosis, Chiu said.

Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease and disturbed flow of the vascular endothelium does not necessarily lead to atherosclerosis, Chiu said, adding that disturbed flow could be reduced through exercise, as physical activity increases blood circulation.