Researchers at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center have found that the most common variant of a circulating protein - apoE3 - helps repair the lining of blood vessels.
However, those that have another variant - apoE4 - do not get the same benefit, putting them at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The team found that apoE3 binds to a receptor - ApoER2 - and together they use endothelial cells, which guard blood vessels, to produce a molecule called nitric oxide. It is known that nitric oxide blunts inflammation, which can contribute to a variety of vascular disorders.
The study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used mutant proteins to determine the structural feature of apoE4 that prevents the protein from giving the benefits of apoE3.
The findings suggest a potential preventive treatment for cardiovascular disease in the high-risk individuals who have the apoE4 variant.
Dr Philip Shaul, professor of pediatrics and vice chair for research in the Department of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, said he believes they have identified a mechanism by which apoE3 promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, and why apoE4 is detrimental.
Posted by Philip Briggs
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