Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vaccine for heart disease? New discovery points to possibility

Date:
August 14, 2012
Source:
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Summary:
Researchers have identified the specific type of immune cells that orchestrate the inflammatory attack on the artery wall, which is a major contributor to plaque buildup in heart disease. Further, researchers discovered that these immune cells are launching their attack in response to normal proteins that the body mistakes as being foreign, an autoimmune type response that points up the possibility of developing a tolerogenic vaccine for heart disease.

Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology have identified the specific type of immune cells (CD4 T cells) that orchestrate the inflammatory attack on the artery wall, which is a major contributor to plaque buildup in heart disease.
Credit: Image courtesy of La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

Most people probably know that heart disease remains the nation's No. 1 killer. But what many may be surprised to learn is that cholesterol has a major accomplice in causing dangerous arterial plaque buildup that can trigger a heart attack. The culprit? Inflammatory cells produced by the immune system.

A number of research studies have demonstrated inflammation's role in fueling plaque buildup, also known as atherosclerosis, which is the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes, but knowledge of which immune cells are key to this process has been limited -- until now.

Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology have identified the specific type of immune cells (CD4 T cells) that orchestrate the inflammatory attack on the artery wall. Further, the researchers discovered that these immune cells behave as if they have previously seen the antigen that causes them to launch the attack. "The thing that excites me most about this finding is that these immune cells appear to have 'memory' of the molecule brought forth by the antigen-presenting cells," said Klaus Ley, M.D., an expert in vascular immunology, who led the study in mouse models. "Immune memory is the underlying basis of successful vaccines. This means that conceptually it becomes possible to consider the development of a vaccine for heart disease."

Dr. Ley said he believes the antigen involved is actually a normal protein that the body mistakes as being foreign and therefore launches an immune attack resulting in inflammation in the arteries. "Essentially, we're saying that there appears to be a strong autoimmune component in heart disease," he said, explaining that autoimmune diseases result from the body's mistaken attack on normal cells. "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."

The study was published online August 13 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Ley cautions that creating a vaccine is a complex process that could take years to develop. However it offers exciting potential. "If successful, a tolerogenic vaccine could stop the inflammation component of heart disease," he said. "This could probably be used in conjunction with the statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) that have already taken a significant chunk out of the numbers of people with heart disease. Together, they could deliver a nice one-two punch that could be important in further reducing heart disease."

Dr. Ley said antigen-presenting cells take up infectious organisms, foreign materials and self-proteins (in the case of autoimmune diseases) and "chop them into little pieces called epitopes" and then display the pieces on the surface of the cell. "The T cell comes along, and if it has the correct receptors, it will recognize the epitope pieces and make cytokines (a type of immune system soldier molecule) that attack the material and cause inflammation." Autoimmune diseases include such illnesses as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

In the study, Dr. Ley and his team used live cell imaging techniques to track immune cells in normal and artherosclerotic mouse aortas. He said in mice with atherosclerosis, there are a large number of antigen-experienced T cells that have already seen certain epitope pieces (from self proteins) that they perceive as foreign. "The T cells talk to the antigen-presenting cells and, in response, make cytokines that launch an attack. This is what makes the inflammation in the vessel wall persistent." Inflammatory cells join fat and cholesterol to form artery-clogging plaque that can eventually block blood flow, leading to a heart attack.

"It wasn't previously known that antigen-experienced T cells existed in the vessel wall," said Dr. Ley. "This experiment makes me now believe that it may be possible to build a vaccine for heart disease."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ekaterina K. Koltsova, Zacarias Garcia, Grzegorz Chodaczek, Michael Landau, Sara McArdle, Spencer R. Scott, Sibylle von Vietinghoff, Elena Galkina, Yury I. Miller, Scott T. Acton, Klaus Ley. Dynamic T cell–APC interactions sustain chronic inflammation in atherosclerosis. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2012; DOI: 10.1172/JCI61758

Cite This Page:

La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. "Vaccine for heart disease? New discovery points to possibility." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120814100256.htm>.
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. (2012, August 14). Vaccine for heart disease? New discovery points to possibility. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120814100256.htm
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. "Vaccine for heart disease? New discovery points to possibility." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120814100256.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — A 111-year-old Japanese was certified as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records on Wednesday. Sakari Momoi, a native of Fukushima in northern Japan, was given a certificate at a hospital in Tokyo. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins