New research published in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension identifies the role of miR-30c-5p in cocaine-related cardiovascular disease.
Reactive oxygen species is a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen and that easily reacts with other molecules in a cell. A buildup of reactive oxygen species in cells may cause damage to DNA, RNA and proteins and may cause cell death.
The team determined that cocaine activates the molecule microRNA (miR)-30c-5p, increasing ROS levels in the cardiovascular system. But, blocking activation of miR-30c-5p dramatically reduced cocaine-induced cardiovascular impacts.
In the study, mice injected with cocaine had high blood pressure, stiff blood vessels and excess levels of ROS -- all indications of cardiovascular disease. Cocaine exposure also increased levels of the miR-30c-5p molecule in the mice. When the researchers treated the mice to block the increase in miR-30c-5p, the mice did not show high blood pressure, stiffer blood vessels or elevated ROS levels when given cocaine.
The team plans to test the findings to see if they are observed in patients to determine the viability of this targeted pathway.