Cardiovascular disease: treatment with an immune target
An American study has found that a protein produced by the immune system could cause atherosclerosis.
Soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) could be the cause of atherosclerosis. This protein could be the immune target of future targeted therapies. It was discovered by the University of Michigan.
Cardiovascular disease affects more than one billion people worldwide. The suPAR, a protein produced by the spinal cord, acts as a thermostat regulator of the immune system. It had already become a marker of cardiovascular disease in a previous study. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis reports over 5,000 people with cardiovascular disease. Of these, people with higher levels of suPAR were more likely to develop cardiovascular events, regardless of risk factors.
Next, the researchers performed a genetic study of 24,000 people to find out whether possible variants would lead to changes in blood suPAR levels. The variant of the PLAUR gene, which encodes the receptor, has been shown to increase suPAR levels. This variant is linked to atherosclerosis. Those who lacked a copy of the PLAUR gene had a lower risk of atherosclerosis. On laboratory animals, American experts found that those with higher levels of suPAR reported an astonishing increase in atherosclerotic plaques. This compares to animals with normal suPAR levels.