A new dissertation shows that Chlamydia pneumoniae can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Half of the population of Swedish twenty-year-olds are carriers of the bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae, an ubiquitous pathogen previously known to cause acute respiratory disease. It now appears that this bacterium also contributes to cardiovascular disease, the single greatest killer disease in the western world.
In a new thesis in the field of pharmacology, Hanna Kälvegren demonstrates that the respiratory bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae stimulates the process that leads to hardening of the arteries. This in turn causes heart attacks and stroke, by increasing the risk of thrombus, or blood clots.
The C. pneumoniae bacteria stimulates the formation of reactive oxygen species, radicals which are responsible for oxidative damage to low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. It is this oxidation that is thought to trigger arteriosclerosis.
Hanna Kälvegren suggests that vaccination to prevent infection by C. pneumoniae would have a positive effect on public health. She will defend her thesis on May 11.
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