Researchers have identified an enzyme that may help prevent heart attack and stroke. The findings may lead to new ways stop clots in the arteries from rupturing; reducing the chances that common conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol will lead to stroke and heart attack.
When plaques form from atherosclerosis, or fatty build-up in the lining of an artery, they can become unstable, rupture, and block blood flow in smaller blood vessels. The result is stroke and heart attack. According to the new research, one possible way plaque rupture occurs, is when the collagen fibers that hold plaque together become thin, causing them to break apart.
Dr.Göran K Hansson at the Karolinska Institute and colleagues have identified that the LOX enzyme, promotes collagen. The researchers hope the enzyme can be developed to stabilize plaque in the arteries that cause atherosclerosis. The LOX enzyme was found to help collagen mature, stabilizing plaque in atherosclerotic mice.
The researchers found that inflammation leads to a lack of mature collagen in atherosclerotic plaque, making it unstable. They hope the LOX enzyme can be developed to provide stability to atherosclerotic plaque found in arteries that lead to heart attack and stroke.
The study authors say they have found “a novel mechanism” that can unravel some of the mystery about how stroke and heart attack happens. They say their findings may lead to “interesting new targets for plaque stabilization therapy.”
Further studies are planned. The research team hopes their findings about collagen and the LOX enzyme can lead to new ways to prevent heart attacks and stroke.