A substance found naturally in the blood vessel lining isthought to contribute towards diseases associated with the circulationsystem, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke and kidneydisease. A study to be published in the open access journal PLoSMedicine looks at the role of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), whichis found in the vessel lining of healthy people but at much higherlevels in those with medical conditions associated with damage to theblood vessels.
ADMA is already recognized to be an importantindicator of cardiovascular disease: higher levels are found in peoplewith a range of problems of the heart and blood vessel system. Theselevels have also been used to predict the risk of such problems inotherwise healthy male patients and pregnant women. However, CarolineSmith and colleagues from University College London attempted touncover whether ADMA actually causes damage rather than just being amarker of risk. They did this by treating cells from the blood vessellining with high doses of ADMA and measured the effects. Theresearchers found that a number of genes were more active when thecells were exposed to higher ADMA levels, including those that previousstudies suggest are involved in lung, heart and kidney disease. Theteam also examined tissues from mice with high ADMA levels and foundthat the genes exhibiting changes were those known to be associatedwith cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
This exploratoryresearch paves the way for new studies to examine the exact functionthat those genes responding to higher ADMA levels may play incardiovascular disease. In the long term, understanding of themechanisms associated with increased ADMA levels may lead to newstrategies for treatment or prevention.
Citation: SmithCL, Anthony S, Hubank M, Leiper JM, Vallance P (2005) Effects of ADMAupon gene expression: An insight into the pathophysiologicalsignificance of raised plasma ADMA. PLoS Med 2(10): e264.
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