Treatment with the antibiotic myriocin can halt the growth of established arterial plaques in mice, researchers report.
Myriocin kills bacteria by disrupting the formation sphingomyelin, a fatty molecule that is a key part of their cell membranes. Since sphingomyelin is also a major component of fatty plaques that can build up in blood vessels, myriocin could be a potential treatment option for atherosclerosis. In fact, some studies have shown that myriocin can suppress the development of atherosclerosis in mice fed a high-fat diet.
Taking this idea one step further, Brett Garner and colleagues aimed to determine whether myriocin could suppress or even reverse pre-existing atherosclerotic lesions. Adult transgenic mice were fed a high-fat diet for 30 days to stimulate plaque formation, at which point the mice were transferred to either a regular diet or a diet containing myriocin.
The researchers then measured lesion size and found that myriocin significantly inhibited the progress of established atherosclerosis, which coincided with decreases in the concentration of sphingomyelin, cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood.
Although the researchers did not observe any shrinkage of lesions, myriocin still could offer therapeutic benefits to individuals with early-stage atherosclerosis.
This research was reported in the Journal Of Lipid Research, February 7, 2008.
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