Heart ailments that are treated with angioplasty or a transplantation may result in injury of the arteries. While in transplantation there is an ever-present risk of rejection of the organ, in angioplasty, placing a balloon in the artery causes damage to the vessel walls. This in turn triggers the immune system response. A new study has however, revealed that pre-treatment with carbon monoxide may protect the arteries from damage that occurs during such procedures.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh pre-treated lab rats with the gas carbon monoxide - normally considered a deadly poison. They discovered that the carbon monoxide spared much of the vessel damage associated with transplantation and angioplasty in the pre-treated rats. The researchers claim that the carbon monoxide blocks white cells of the immune system from infiltrating the damaged area, which stops the build up of plaque inside the vessels and so makes the procedures more successful in the long term. It was also observed that there was no negative effect from carbon monoxide exposure.
The study is being furthered in pigs, that are often considered as a very useful model of human heart disease.