Oxidized lipids are known to play a key role in hardening arteries and inflaming blood vessels, which causes diseases like atherosclerosis.
A new study at UCLA demonstrates that they may also contribute to pulmonary hypertension, a serious lung disease that narrows the small blood vessels in the lungs. Using a rodent model, the researchers showed that a peptide mimicking part of the main protein in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called "good" cholesterol, may help reduce the production of oxidized lipids in pulmonary hypertension.
They also found that reducing the amount of oxidized lipids improved the rodents' heart and lung function. The study appears in the current online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Circulation
A rare progressive condition, pulmonary hypertension can affect people of all ages. The disease makes it harder for the heart to pump blood through these vital organs, which can lead to heart failure. "Our research helps unravel the mechanisms involved in the development of pulmonary hypertension," said Dr. Mansoureh Eghbali, the study's senior author and an associate professor of anesthesiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
"A key peptide related to HDL cholesterol that can help reduce these oxidized lipids may provide a new target for treatment development." Lipids such as fatty acids become oxidized when they are exposed to free radicals tiny particles that are produced when the body converts food into energy -- or when they are exposed to pollution, and in numerous other ways.
Although researchers have known that oxidized lipids played a role in the development of atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases, the UCLA team discovered higher-than-normal levels of oxidized proteins in rodents with pulmonary hypertension.