Hardening of arteries or atherosclerosis treatment can be improved by new discovery, says study.
The researchers showed that by changing the behaviour of endothelial cells in hardened vessels, without making the vessels any less stiff, they could reduce the effects of aging on vessel health.
This was achieved by dulling the vessels' inflammatory response to stiffening by, in essence, tricking the cells in the blood vessels into thinking the vessels were not stiff.
"One of the things we wanted to do was understand how aging is linked to atherosclerosis, and how the mechanism of vessel stiffening plays into this link," said Cynthia Reinhart-King, Cornell professor of biomedical engineering and lead author.
A class of medications called statins (e.g., Lipitor and Crestor) work by changing how the liver metabolizes cholesterol and lowering the total amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Reinhart-King said that though the drugs are effective, but they have side effects, and they seem to be most effective in patients who already have atherosclerosis and not as a preventative treatment.
"[But] if you just prevent the cholesterol from getting under the vessel wall to begin with, you may stop the whole process," Reinhart-King said.
The study has been published online in the journal Science Translational Medicine.