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Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol
The accumulation of plaque in the arteries associated with unhealthy cholesterol tests may significantly increase a person's risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. But why does this plaque accumulate in the first place?
A team of researchers from New York University explains in the latest issue of the journal Nature Immunology that it has to do with a molecule secreted by immune system cells that initially respond to attack fatty deposits. The finding could open the door to the development of new medications.
Previous studies have shown that immune cells known as macrophages contribute to the development of arterial blockages. These cells initially try to break up fatty deposits but often end up becoming a part of the blockage themselves.
The present investigation revealed that these cells secrete a molecule known as netrin-1 that impairs the ability of macrophages to leave the site of fatty buildups. Once this happens, the fate of the macrophage is sealed and it is doomed to contribute to narrowing of the arteries.
The researchers said their findings may lead to the development of new medications. By targeting the secretion of netrin-1, it may be possible to prevent the accumulation of macrophages and prevent arteries from becoming blocked.
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